Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
While making a visit to San Francisco “to have a sight of the great world,” Keawe, a young Hawaiian sailor, admires the opulent houses of the rich. He is particularly impressed by one house, which, while smaller than the rest, is “all finished and beautified like a toy.” To his surprise, he discovers that the elderly man who lives in this beautiful house is “heavy with sorrow” and sighs constantly. The elderly man tells Keawe that his house and all his fortune came from an imp who lives in a magic bottle. The imp will grant any wish that the owner of the bottle makes, but if the owner dies before he sells the bottle, “he must burn in hell forever.” The person who sells the bottle must always sell it for less than he paid for it. The elderly man tricks Keawe into buying the bottle for fifty dollars, which is all the money that Keawe has. Keawe attempts to discard the bottle or sell it for a profit, but it magically comes back to him.
When he returns to Hawaii, Keawe finds that his uncle and cousin have died, leaving him their land and a large sum of money. Resolving that he “may as well take the good along with the evil” of the bottle, Keawe has a beautiful house, called Bright House, built overlooking the ocean. His friend Lopaka persuades him to call the imp out of the bottle so that they can see what it looks like; although they are horrified at the appearance of the imp, Lopaka buys the bottle in order to enlist its power to obtain...
(The entire section is 892 words.)
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