Keawe is a Hawaiian man visiting San Francisco for the first time. He sees all of the beautiful mansions and wishes that he too could live so well. An elderly man tells him that anything he wishes could be his — he need only buy the magical bottle. The man explains that an imp lives in the bottle. The imp will grant any wish except for prolonging life. However, there is a catch: if the owner does not sell the bottle before he dies, and at a lower prince than he paid for it, he will burn in hell forever.
He now tells his friend Lopaka about the bottle. Lopaka agrees to buy it after Keawe has wished for what he desires. Keawe plans to ask the bottle for a house even more grand than the ones he saw in San Francisco.
When he and Lopaka return to Hawaii, Keawe learns his uncle and cousin are dead. As a result, he has inherited their land and a great sum of money. It seems even more likely when the architect Keawe approaches designs exactly the house he imagined. The architect also charges exactly the amount he inherited. The house is built and is perfect.
Lopaka, however, thinks this could be a strange coincidence.
When they see the imp, the two men are terrified. Nevertheless, Lopaka buys the bottle and leaves the house. One day, he sees a beautiful girl and falls in love. The girl, Kokua, agrees to marry him. He is overjoyed, but finds a blemish on his skin — leprosy.
Vowing nothing will come between him and Kokua, he plans to buy the bottle again and wish for health. After some difficulties, he finally finds the bottle. Unfortunately, the price had fallen dramatically — the man who bought it had paid only two cents! Keawe decides he would rather burn in hell for eternity than lose Kokua. He buys the bottle for one cent and is cured of his leprosy. He and Kokua marry but he is haunted by his fate.
He finally tells Kokua what he has done and she resolves to help him. They go to Papeete, where the people use French currency. She reasons that they can sell the bottle here for four centimes. When they arrive, people are suspicious of buying the bottle. Kokua decides she loves her husband so much that she will buy it. She asks an elderly man to buy it from Keawe for four centimes so Keawe will not be suspicious that she is behind it.
She immediately buys the bottle from the man for three centimes. Keawe is now elated to be free of the bottle, but cannot understand why Kokua seems so miserable. He later sees her with the bottle and realizes what she has done. He vows to buy the bottle back again.
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Once he buys the bottle, however, the sailor refuses to sell it back. Kalamake is a very powerful sorcerer who lives on Molokai. He has a daughter, Lehua, who is married to Keola.
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Keola wonders how Kalamake always seems to have an endless supply of silver dollars. One day, Kalamake shows him his secret. He then tells Keola to bring him leaves from a certain tree. When Keola finds the leaves, he sees a girl. He calls to her, but she flees and does not seem to see him. Kalamake tells him that the magic that brings them to the island makes them invisible to the islanders, although the islanders can hear their voices which frightens them.
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Kalamake now sets the leaves in a circle. He tells Keola that he must keep these alight until he returns — when the fire goes out, they will be transported back to Molokai. Kalamake now collects shells from the beach and returns before the fire goes out. The two are returned to Molokai and the shells all become silver dollars. Keola now becomes greedy, and demands Kalamake give him a concertina.
Enraged, the sorcerer plans to teach him a lesson. He takes Keola out in a boat and makes himself as big as a giant. He pushes Keola overboard, and tells him he is in the Sea of the Dead. Luckily, Keola is saved by a schooner bound for Honolulu.
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The Misadventures of John Nicholson is a late contribution to the mid-nineteenth-century Christmas book genre. Robert Louis Stevenson was born in in Edinburgh, the son of an engineer. He briefly studied engineering, then law, and contributed to university magazines while a student. Despite life-long poor health, he was an enthusiastic traveller, writing about European travels in the late s and marrying in America in He contributed to various periodicals, writing first essays and later fiction.
His first novel was Treasure Island in , intended for his stepson, who collaborated with Stevenson on two later novels. Some of Stevenson's subsequent novels are insubstantial popular romances, but others possess a deepening psychological intensity. He also wrote a handful of plays in collaboration with W. In , he left England for his health, and never returned, eventually settling in Samoa after travelling in the Pacific islands.
His time here was one of relatively good health and considerable writing, as well as of deepening concern for the Polynesian islanders under European exploitation, expressed in fictional and factual writing from his final years, some of which was so contrary to contemporary culture that a full text remained unavailable until well after Stevenson's death.
Stevenson died of a brain haemorrhage in Health Sciences. Life Sciences.
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