Date read: 9 July 2017
He knew from bitter experience what courage it took to ask a favor from a fellow man.
How many millionaires let themselves be put to even a small inconvenience by a poor friend?
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.
Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than government. It is almost the equal of family. Never forget that. If you had built up a wall of friendships you wouldn’t have to ask me to help.
“No, no,” he said. “Get everyone on it even if they can’t help us right now. I believe in friendship and I am willing to show my friendship first.”
“And what do you believe?” Kay asked quietly. Michael shrugged. “I believe in my family,” he said. “I believe in you and the family we may have. I don’t trust society to protect us, I have no intention of placing my fate in the hands of men whose only qualification is that they managed to con a bloc of people to vote for them.
He said to Michael, “If I took a job like that there couldn’t be any strings attached.” Michael said coldly, “No strings. I just owe you and I want to even out.” Lucy said gently, “Mike, don’t get sore.” Michael smiled at her. “I’m not sore.” He turned to Jules. “That was a dumb thing for you to say…”
The abuse itself bothered him not at all. Hagen had learned the art of negotiation from the Don himself. “Never get angry,” the Don had instructed. “Never make a threat. Reason with people.” The word “reason” sounded so much better in Italian, ragione, to rejoin. The art of this was to ignore all insults, all threats; to turn the other cheek.
The Don considered a use of threats the most foolish kind of exposure; the unleashing of anger without forethought as the most dangerous indulgence. No one had ever heard the Don utter a naked threat, no one had ever seen him in an uncontrollable rage. It was unthinkable.
He remembered what his Godfather had said, that he could make his own life what he wanted. Great chance if you knew what you wanted. But what did he want?
The Don could never be turned by anyone for any reason. His affection was mutable only by himself.
He claimed that there was no greater natural advantage in life than having an enemy overestimate your faults, unless it was to have a friend underestimate your virtues.
All of these men were good listeners, patient men. They had one other thing in common. They were those rarities, men who had refused to accept the rule of organized society, men who refused the dominion of other men. There was no force, no mortal man who could bend them to their will unless they wished it. They were men who guarded their free will with wiles and murder. Their wills could be subverted only by death. Or the utmost reasonableness.
Time erodes gratitude more quickly than it does beauty.
You know, I used to tell people, ‘Don’t eat so much or you’ll die, don’t smoke so much or you’ll die, don’t work so much or you’ll die, don’t drink so much or you’ll die.’ Nobody listens. You know why? Because I don’t say, ‘You will die tomorrow.’
Treachery can’t be forgiven. Michael could have forgiven it, but people never forgive themselves and so they would always be dangerous.
They must know I’m too strong for them to hold me so cheaply. But that’s the trouble with young people, no matter how talented. They don’t reason things out and they want all the water in the well.
Many young men started down a false path to their true destiny. Time and fortune usually set them aright.