The narrator and his son, Gip, happen upon a magic shop. Through the window of the shop, they see lots of "alluring little objects" such as "magic balls, magic hens, wonderful cones, [and] ventriloquist dolls." Gip indicates to his father that he would like one of the objects in the window, that object being a magic bottle.
Inside the shop, Gip and his father meet the shopman. The shopman shows them some tricks, and assures them that the magic sold in the shop is "Genuine" and involves "absolutely no deception." The shopman takes the father's hat and shakes from it a seemingly endless supply of "crumpled, crinkled paper." The supply of paper grows bigger and bigger, and eventually the shopman seems to disappear behind it.
A short while later, the shopman reappears and takes Gip and his father into "the show-room." The shopman shows Gip and his father more magic tricks, and Gip becomes enchanted with him. Gip's father, meanwhile, becomes distracted. He notices an "odd-looking assistant" who leans against a pillar "in an idle sort of way doing the most horrid things with his features."
When the father turns his attention back to the shopman and his son, the shopman covers the son with "a sort of big drum" and makes him disappear. The shopman then runs through an open door. The father follows him, but on the other side of the door he finds himself back in the street, where he collides with "a decent-looking working man." A few feet away he sees Gip, holding four parcels and looking rather "perplexed." The father then looks behind him, but where he expects to see the door to the magic shop, he sees neither a door nor a shop.
When they return home, Gip opens his parcels. Inside he finds some lead soldiers and "a little living white kitten." Gip tells his father that he can make the soldiers come alive, simply by uttering a word before he opens the box. His father never sees the soldiers come to life, but he finds it "difficult to tell" whether they really might.