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Книга The Godfather. Страница 6

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It might have been going on for some time but now they could hear the soft knocking on the door. Sonny quickly buttoned his trousers, meanwhile blocking the door so that it could not be opened. Lucy frantically smoothed down her pink gown, her eyes flickering, but the thing that had given her so much pleasure was hidden inside sober black cloth. Then they heard Tom Hagen’s voice, very low, “Sonny, you in there?”

Sonny sighed with relief. He winked at Lucy. “Yeah, Tom, what is it?”

Hagen’s voice, still low, said, “The Don wants you in his office. Now.” They could hear his footsteps as he walked away. Sonny waited for a few moments, gave Lucy a hard kiss on the lips, and then slipped out the door after Hagen.

Lucy combed her hair. She checked her dress and pulled around her garter straps. Her body felt bruised, her lips pulpy and tender. She went out the door and though she felt the sticky wetness between her thighs she did not go to the bathroom to wash but ran straight on down the steps and into the garden. She took her seat at the bridal table next to Connie, who exclaimed petulantly, “Lucy, where were you? You look drunk. Stay beside me now.”

The blond groom poured Lucy a glass of wine and smiled knowingly. Lucy didn’t care. She lifted the grapey, dark red juice to her parched mouth and drank. She felt the sticky wetness between her thighs and pressed her legs together. Her body was trembling. Over the glass rim, as she drank, her eyes searched hungrily to find Sonny Corleone. There was no one else she cared to see. Slyly she whispered in Connie’s ear, “Only a few hours more and you’ll know what it’s all about.” Connie giggled. Lucy demurely folded her hands on the table, treacherously triumphant, as if she had stolen a treasure from the bride.

* * *

Amerigo Bonasera followed Hagen into the corner room of the house and found Don Corleone sitting behind a huge desk. Sonny Corleone was standing by the window, looking out into the garden. For the first time that afternoon the Don behaved coolly. He did not embrace the visitor or shake hands. The sallow-faced undertaker owed his invitation to the fact that his wife and the wife of the Don were the closest of friends. Amerigo Bonasera himself was in severe disfavor with Don Corleone.

Bonasera began his request obliquely and cleverly. “You must excuse my daughter, your wife’s goddaughter, for not doing your family the respect of coming today. She is in the hospital still.” He glanced at Sonny Corleone and Tom Hagen to indicate that he did not wish to speak before them. But the Don was merciless.

“We all know of your daughter’s misfortune,” Don Corleone said. “If I can help her in any way, you have only to speak. My wife is her godmother after all. I have never forgotten that honor.” This was a rebuke. The undertaker never called Don Corleone, “Godfather” as custom dictated.

Bonasera, ashen-faced, asked, directly now, “May I speak to you alone?”

Don Corleone shook his head. “I trust these two men with my life. They are my two right arms. I cannot insult them by sending them away.”

The undertaker closed his eyes for a moment and then began to speak. His voice was quiet, the voice he used to console the bereaved. “I raised my daughter in the American fashion. I believe in America. America has made my fortune. I gave my daughter her freedom and yet taught her never to dishonor her family. She found a ‘boy friend,’ not an Italian. She went to the movies with him. She stayed out late. But he never came to meet her parents. I accepted all this without a protest, the fault is mine. Two months ago he took her for a drive. He had a masculine friend with him. They made her drink whiskey and then they tried to take advantage of her. She resisted. She kept her honor. They beat her. Like an animal. When I went to the hospital she had two black eyes. Her nose was broken. Her jaw was shattered. They had to wire it together. She wept through her pain. ‘Father, Father, why did they do it? Why did they do this to me?’ And I wept.” Bonasera could not speak further, he was weeping now though his voice had not betrayed his emotion.

Don Corleone, as if against his will, made a gesture of sympathy and Bonasera went on, his voice human with suffering. “Why did I weep? She was the light of my life, an affectionate daughter. A beautiful girl. She trusted people and now she will never trust them again. She will never be beautiful again.” He was trembling, his sallow face flushed an ugly dark red.

“I went to the police like a good American. The two boys were arrested. They were brought to trial. The evidence was overwhelming and they pleaded guilty. The judge sentenced them to three years in prison and suspended the sentence. They went free that very day. I stood in the courtroom like a fool and those bastards smiled at me. And then I said to my wife: ‘We must go to Don Corleone for justice.’ ”

The Don had bowed his head to show respect for the man’s grief. But when he spoke, the words were cold with offended dignity. “Why did you go to the police? Why didn’t you come to me at the beginning of this affair?”

Bonasera muttered almost inaudibly, “What do you want of me? Tell me what you wish. But do what I beg you to do.” There was something almost insolent in his words.

Don Corleone said gravely, “And what is that?”

Bonasera glanced at Hagen and Sonny Corleone and shook his head. The Don, still sitting at Hagen’s desk, inclined his body toward the undertaker. Bonasera hesitated, then bent down and put his lips so close to the Don’s hairy ear that they touched. Don Corleone listened like a priest in the confessional, gazing away into the distance, impassive, remote. They stood so for a long moment until Bonasera finished whispering and straightened to his full height. The Don looked up gravely at Bonasera. Bonasera, his face flushed, returned the stare unflinchingly.

Finally the Don spoke. “That I cannot do. You are being carried away.”

Bonasera said loudly, clearly, “I will pay you anything you ask.” On hearing this, Hagen flinched, a nervous flick of his head. Sonny Corleone folded his arms, smiled sardonically as he turned from the window to watch the scene in the room for the first time.

Don Corleone rose from behind the desk. His face was still impassive but his voice rang like cold death. “We have known each other many years, you and I,” he said to the undertaker, “but until this day you never came to me for counsel or help. I can’t remember the last time you invited me to your house for coffee though my wife is godmother to your only child. Let us be frank. You spurned my friendship. You feared to be in my debt.”

Bonasera murmured, “I didn’t want to get into trouble.”

The Don held up his hand. “No. Don’t speak. You found America a paradise. You had a good trade, you made a good living, you thought the world a harmless place where you could take your pleasure as you willed. You never armed yourself with true friends. After all, the police guarded you, there were courts of law, you and yours could come to no harm. You did not need Don Corleone. Very well. My feelings were wounded but I am not that sort of person why thrusts his friendship on those who do not value it— on those who think me of little account.” The Don paused and gave the undertaker a polite, ironic smile. “Now you come to me and say, ‘Don Corleone give me justice.’ And you do not ask with respect. You do not offer me your friendship. You come into my home on the bridal day of my daughter and you ask me to do murder and you say”—here the Don’s voice became a scornful mimicry—” ‘I will pay you anything.’ No, no, I am not offended, but what have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully?”

Bonasera cried out in his anguish and his fear, “America has been good to me. I wanted to be a good citizen. I wanted my child to be American.”

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