“Well, Van,” he said at last, making a slow, awkward gesture with his left hand, all the fingers extended, “well, I’ll take you up—but I don’t feel as though I should—” He suddenly interrupted himself with a burst of sincerity, exclaiming: “Sure, old man, if I had nine thousand I’d give it to you for the block, that’s straight goods.” He felt that he was conscientious in saying this. It was true he would have given nine thousand if he had had it. For that matter he might have given ten or twelve.
“Can’t we settle the whole matter to-day?” said Vandover. “Right here—now. I’m sick of it, sick of everything. Let’s get it done with.”
Geary nearly bounded from his seat. He had been wondering how he might accomplish this very thing. “All right,” he said briskly, “no reason in waiting.” He had seen to it that he should be prepared to close the sale the moment that Vandover was willing. Long ago, when he had first had the idea of buying the block, he had spent a day in the offices of the county recorder, the tax collector, and the assessor, assuring himself of the validity of the title, and only two days ago he had gone over the matter again in order to be sure that no encumbrances had been added to the block in the meanwhile. He found nothing; the title was clear.
“Isn’t this rather rushing the thing through?” he asked. “Maybe you might regret it afterward. Don’t you want to take two or three days to think it over?”
“Sure now?” persisted Geary.
“But I’ve got to sell before three days,” answered Vandover. “Otherwise he’ll want ten thousand.”
“That’s a fact,” admitted the other. “Well,” he went on, “if your mind’s made up, why—we can go right ahead. As I say, there’s no reason for waiting; better take up Wade while he’s in the mood for it. You see, he hasn’t signed any proposition as yet, and he might go back on us.” Vandover drew a long breath and got up slowly, heavily, from the couch, saying:
“What’s the odds to me what I sell for? I don’t get the money.”
“Well, what do you say if we go right down to a notary’s office and put this thing right through,” Geary suggested.
“Come on, then.”
“Have you got your abstract here, the abstract of the block?” Vandover nodded. “Better bring it along, then,” said Geary.
The office of the notary adjoined those of the firm of Beale & Storey; in fact, he was in a sense an attache of the great firm and transacted a great deal of legal business for them. Vandover and Geary fell upon him in an idle moment. A man had come to regulate the water filter, which took the place of an ice cooler in a corner of one of the anterooms, and while he was engaged at his work the notary stood at his back, abusing him and exclaiming at the ineffectiveness of the contrivance. The notary was a middle-aged man with a swollen, purple face; he had a toothpick behind each ear and wore an office coat of gray linen, ripped at the shoulders.