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The bottle Imp
There was a man in the island of
“What fine houses these are!” he was thinking.
“And how happy those people must be who live in them!”
He was thinking of this, and then he came to a house that was smaller than the others. But it was as fine as a flower , and the windows gave off light like diamonds . Keawe stopped to look at it. So stopping, he saw a man that looked out of a window. Keawe could see him as clearly as you can see a fish in the water. The man smiled and smiled as if to tell Keawe to come in; and he met him at the door of the house.
“My house is a fine house, isn’t it?” he said.
“Please come and look at the rooms.”
So he took Keawe all over the house. And everything in it was as good as good can be.
“This is a beautiful house,” Keawe said.
“If I lived in it, I should be laughing all day. How is it, then, that you are not?”
“If you like,” the man said, “you can have one like it. Or even finer. You have some money, I think?”
“I have fifty dollars,” Keawe said. “But a house like this will cost more than fifty dollars.”
“I am sorry that you have no more,” the man said. “But you shall have it for fifty dollars.”
“The house?” Keawe asked.
“No, not the house,” the man said, “but the bottle. For I must tell you one thing. This house, and the garden, and all the things I have, came out of a small bottle. Here it is!”
And he took out a small round bottle with a long neck. The glass was white, and in it something moved. But what it was, you could not see.
“This is the bottle,” the man said.
Keawe laughed. “This is a thing I don’t understand.”
“It came from hell ,” the man said, “and an imp lives in it. Look! You can see it moving. If a man buys this bottle, the imp will do everything for him. All that he wants – a house like this, or even a city, or money – all this can be his. He only has to say the word. Napoleon had this bottle. But he sold it, and fell.”
“And yet you want to sell it?” Keawe asked.
“I have all I want,” said the man, “and I am getting old. There is one thing the imp cannot do. He cannot make life longer. Also, if a man has the bottle when he dies, he goes to hell.”
“Well!” said Keawe. “I am certainly not going to buy such a thing.”
“Listen,” the man answered. “You only have to get what you want. Then you sell the bottle again.”
“Well,” Keawe said. “I see two things: you are not happy, and you sell this bottle very cheap.”
“I am getting old,” the man said. “Like you, I do not want to die and go to hell. But I must tell you one thing. When the devil brought the bottle into the world, it cost a lot of money, many million dollars.
“But you must sell it cheaper than you bought it. The price has fallen all the time, and the bottle is now very cheap. I paid only ninety dollars. And I must sell it cheaper-or it will come back to me.”
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