Manual Labyrinths and Volcanoes: Windings Through Sicily (Sicilian Studies Book 4)

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  3. (District Siracusa - Ragusa - Noto)

Guiliano holds a trump card. He has a diary he calls his Testament. In it he gives proofs that the government in Rome, certain officials, have helped him during his years of banditry, for purposes of their own, political purposes. If that document becomes public the Christian Democratic government would fall and we would have the Socialists and Communists ruling Italy. Inspector Velardi agrees with me that anything must be done to prevent that. So he is willing to help Guiliano escape with the Testament with the understanding that it will not be made public.

He wondered if his father knew about it. His instructions had never mentioned such a document. Inspector Velardi said sharply, "If I could make the decision I would say kill Guiliano and be damned to his Testament. Stefano Andolini glared at the Inspector with a look of hatred so naked and intense that for the first time Michael realized that here was a man almost as dangerous as Don Croce himself. Andolini said, "Guiliano will never surrender and you are not a good enough man to put him in his grave.

You would be much wiser to look after yourself. Don Croce raised his hand slowly and there was silence at the table. He spoke slowly to Michael, ignoring the others.

Why Don Corleone concerns himself in this affair, I can't tell you. Be assured he has his reasons and that those reasons are good. But what can I do? This afternoon you go to Guiliano's parents, convince them their son must trust me and remind those dear people that it was I who had them released from prison. In his years of exile and hiding, Michael had developed an animal instinct for danger.

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But most of all Don Croce sent alarm signals clanging through his brain. All the men at the table hushed their voices when they spoke to Don Croce, even his own brother, Father Beniamino. They leaned toward him with bowed heads waiting for his speech, they even stopped chewing their food. The servants circled around him as if he were a sun, the bodyguards scattered around the garden constantly kept their eyes on him, ready to spring forward at his command and tear everyone to pieces.

The Don nodded his huge head in benediction, folded his well-shaped hands over his stomach and said in his powerful tenor voice, "We must be absolutely frank with each other. Tell me, what are your plans for Guiliano's escape? Speak to me as a son to his father. Michael glanced quickly at Inspector Velardi.


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He would never speak frankly, before the head of the Security Police of Sicily. Don Croce understood immediately. Michael raised his glass of wine to drink. Over it he could see the guards watching them, spectators at a play. He could see Inspector Velardi grimace, not liking even the diplomacy of the Don's speech, the message being clear that Don Croce ruled him and his office. He saw the frown on the murderous huge-lipped face of Stefano Andolini. Only Father Beniamino refused to meet his gaze and bowed his head.

Michael drank the glass of cloudy white wine and a servant immediately refilled it. Suddenly the garden seemed a dangerous place. He knew in his bones that what Don Croce had said could not be true. Why should any of them at this table trust the head of the Security Police of Sicily? Would Guiliano? The history of Sicily was larded with treachery, Michael thought sourly; he remembered his dead wife. So why was Don Croce being so trustful? And why the massive security around him? Don Croce was the top man of the Mafia. He had the most powerful connections in Rome and indeed served as their unofficial deputy here in Sicily.

Then what did Don Croce fear? It could only be Guiliano. But the Don was watching. Michael tried to speak with the utmost sincerity. I am to wait in Trapani until Salvatore Guiliano is delivered to me. By you and your people. A fast ship will take us to Africa. We will of course have the necessary papers of identity. From Africa we fly to America where it has been arranged for us to enter without the usual formalities.

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I hope it will be as easy as they have made it sound. The Don sighed and drank from his glass. Then he fixed his eyes on Michael. He started to speak slowly and impressively. There is no order.

Only violence and treachery in abundance. You look wary, my young friend, and you have every right. And so, too, our Guiliano. Let me tell you this: Turi Guiliano could not have survived without my protection; he and I have been two fingers on one hand. And now he thinks me his enemy.

Ah, you can't know what sorrow this brings me. My only dream is that one day Turi Guiliano can return to his family and be acclaimed the champion of Sicily. He is a true Christian and a brave man. And with a heart so tender that he has won the love of every Sicilian. He is alone in the mountains with barely a handful of men to face the army that Italy sends against him. And he has been betrayed at every turn. So he trusts no one, not even himself. The Don looked at Michael for a moment very coldly. Perhaps I should say, in all fairness, go home to America without him. We are coming to the end of a tragedy which in no way concerns you.

I will assist in every way, I will never desert Guiliano. They all drank and Michael calculated.

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Did the Don want him to stay or to desert Guiliano? Stefano Andolini spoke. Father Beniamino said with a too humble insistence, "And perhaps they will know something about the Testament. Don Croce sighed. He thinks it will save his life or at least avenge his death. Rome fears the Testament, but I do not. And tell his parents what is written on paper affects history.

But not life. Life is a different history. The road from Palermo to Montelepre was no more than a one-hour drive. But in that hour Michael and Andolini went from the civilization of a city to the primitive culture of the Sicilian countryside. Stefano Andolini drove the tiny Fiat, and in the afternoon sun his close-shaved cheeks and chin blazed with countless grains of scarlet hair roots. He drove carefully and slowly, as men do who have learned to drive motor vehicles late in life.

The Fiat panted as if short of breath as it wound uphill through the enormous range of mountains. At five different points they were stopped by roadblocks of the National Police, platoons of at least twelve men backed by an armored car bristling with machine guns. Andolini's papers got them through. It was strange to Michael that the country could become so wild and primitive such a short distance from the great city of Palermo.

They passed tiny villages of stone houses that were precariously balanced on steep slopes.

(District Siracusa - Ragusa - Noto)

These slopes were carefully gardened into terraced narrow fields growing neat rows of spiky green plants. Small hills were studded with countless huge white boulders half-buried in moss and bamboo stalks; in the distance they looked like vast unsculptured cemeteries. At intervals along the road were holy shrines, padlocked wooden boxes that held statues of the Virgin Mary or some particular favored saint. At one of these shrines, Michael saw a woman on her knees praying, her husband sitting in their donkey-drawn cart guzzling a bottle of wine.

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