Tønsberg: Høgskolen i Vestfold : Vestfold Collge, 1999.  Go to: [Digital library]  
Robert Louis Stevenson:  Island Nights' Entertainments. 
Go to: |Contents | Next story: Isle of voices | 

THE BOTTLE IMP. 

N ote. - Any student of that very unliterary product, the English 
drama of the early part of the century, will here recognise the 
name and the root idea of a piece once rendered popular by the 
redoubtable O. Smith.  The root idea is there and identical, and 
yet I hope I have made it a new thing.  And the fact that the tale 
has been designed and written for a Polynesian audience may lend it 
some extraneous interest nearer home. - R. L. S. 
 

THERE was a man of the Island of Hawaii, whom I shall call Keawe; 
for the truth is, he still lives, and his name must be kept secret; 
but the place of his birth was not far from Honaunau, where the 
bones of Keawe the Great lie hidden in a cave.  This man was poor, 
brave, and active; he could read and write like a schoolmaster; he 
was a first-rate mariner besides, sailed for some time in the 
island steamers, and steered a whaleboat on the Hamakua coast.  At 
length it came in Keawe's mind to have a sight of the great world 
and foreign cities, and he shipped on a vessel bound to San 
Francisco. 

This is a fine town, with a fine harbour, and rich people 
uncountable; and, in particular, there is one hill which is covered 
with palaces.  Upon this hill Keawe was one day taking a walk with 
his pocket full of money, viewing the great houses upon either hand 
with pleasure, "What fine houses these are!" he was thinking, "and 
how happy must those people be who dwell in them, and take no care 
for the morrow!"  The thought was in his mind when he came abreast 
of a house that was smaller than some others, but all finished and 
beautified like a toy; the steps of that house shone like silver, 
and the borders of the garden bloomed like garlands, and the 
windows were bright like diamond; and Keawe stopped and wondered at 
the excellence of all he saw.  So stopping, he was aware of a man 
that looked forth upon him through a window so clear that Keawe 
could see him as you see a fish in a pool upon the reef.  The man 
was elderly, with a bald head and a black beard; and his face was 
heavy with sorrow, and he bitterly sighed.  And the truth of it is, 
that as Keawe looked in upon the man, and the man looked out upon 
Keawe, each envied the other. 

All of a sudden, the man smiled and nodded, and beckoned Keawe to 
enter, and met him at the door of the house. 

"This is a fine house of mine," said the man, and bitterly sighed. 
"Would you not care to view the chambers?" 

So he led Keawe all over it, from the cellar to the roof, and there 
was nothing there that was not perfect of its kind, and Keawe was 
astonished. 

"Truly," said Keawe, "this is a beautiful house; if I lived in the 
like of it, I should be laughing all day long.  How comes it, then, 
that you should be sighing?" 

"There is no reason," said the man, "why you should not have a 
house in all points similar to this, and finer, if you wish.  You 
have some money, I suppose?" 

"I have fifty dollars," said Keawe; "but a house like this will 
cost more than fifty dollars." 

The man made a computation.  "I am sorry you have no more," said 
he, "for it may raise you trouble in the future; but it shall be 
yours at fifty dollars." 

"The house?" asked Keawe. 

"No, not the house," replied the man; "but the bottle.  For, I must 
tell you, although I appear to you so rich and fortunate, all my 
fortune, and this house itself and its garden, came out of a bottle 
not much bigger than a pint.  This is it." 

And he opened a lockfast place, and took out a round-bellied bottle 
with a long neck; the glass of it was white like milk, with 
changing rainbow colours in the grain.  Withinsides something 
obscurely moved, like a shadow and a fire. 

"This is the bottle," said the man; and, when Keawe laughed, "You 
do not believe me?" he added.  "Try, then, for yourself.  See if 
you can break it." 

So Keawe took the bottle up and dashed it on the floor till he was 
weary; but it jumped on the floor like a child's ball, and was not 
injured. 

"This is a strange thing," said Keawe.  "For by the touch of it, as 
well as by the look, the bottle should be of glass." 

"Of glass it is," replied the man, sighing more heavily than ever; 
"but the glass of it was tempered in the flames of hell.  An imp 
lives in it, and that is the shadow we behold there moving: or so I 
suppose.  If any man buy this bottle the imp is at his command; all 
that he desires - love, fame, money, houses like this house, ay, or 
a city like this city - all are his at the word uttered.  Napoleon 
had this bottle, and by it he grew to be the king of the world; but 
he sold it at the last, and fell.  Captain Cook had this bottle, 
and by it he found his way to so many islands; but he, too, sold 
it, and was slain upon Hawaii.  For, once it is sold, the power 
goes and the protection; and unless a man remain content with what 
he has, ill will befall him." 

"And yet you talk of selling it yourself?"  Keawe said. 

"I have all I wish, and I am growing elderly," replied the man. 
"There is one thing the imp cannot do - he cannot prolong life; 
and, it would not be fair to conceal from you, there is a drawback 
to the bottle; for if a man die before he sells it, he must burn in 
hell forever." 

"To be sure, that is a drawback and no mistake," cried Keawe.  "I 
would not meddle with the thing.  I can do without a house, thank 
God; but there is one thing I could not be doing with one particle, 
and that is to be damned." 

"Dear me, you must not run away with things," returned the man. 
"All you have to do is to use the power of the imp in moderation, 
and then sell it to someone else, as I do to you, and finish your 
life in comfort." 

"Well, I observe two things," said Keawe.  "All the time you keep 
sighing like a maid in love, that is one; and, for the other, you 
sell this bottle very cheap." 

"I have told you already why I sigh," said the man.  "It is because 
I fear my health is breaking up; and, as you said yourself, to die 
and go to the devil is a pity for anyone.  As for why I sell so 
cheap, I must explain to you there is a peculiarity about the 
bottle.  Long ago, when the devil brought it first upon earth, it 
was extremely expensive, and was sold first of all to Prester John 
for many millions of dollars; but it cannot be sold at all, unless 
sold at a loss.  If you sell it for as much as you paid for it, 
back it comes to you again like a homing pigeon.  It follows that 
the price has kept falling in these centuries, and the bottle is 
now remarkably cheap.  I bought it myself from one of my great 
neighbours on this hill, and the price I paid was only ninety 
dollars.  I could sell it for as high as eighty-nine dollars and 
ninety-nine cents, but not a penny dearer, or back the thing must 
come to me.  Now, about this there are two bothers.  First, when 
you offer a bottle so singular for eighty odd dollars, people 
suppose you to be jesting.  And second - but there is no hurry 
about that - and I need not go into it.  Only remember it must be 
coined money that you sell it for." 

"How am I to know that this is all true?" asked Keawe. 

"Some of it you can try at once," replied the man.  "Give me your 
fifty dollars, take the bottle, and wish your fifty dollars back 
into your pocket.  If that does not happen, I pledge you my honour 
I will cry off the bargain and restore your money." 

"You are not deceiving me?" said Keawe. 

The man bound himself with a great oath. 

"Well, I will risk that much," said Keawe, "for that can do no 
harm."  And he paid over his money to the man, and the man handed 
him the bottle. 

"Imp of the bottle," said Keawe, "I want my fifty dollars back." 
And sure enough he had scarce said the word before his pocket was 
as heavy as ever. 

"To be sure this is a wonderful bottle," said Keawe. 

"And now good-morning to you, my fine fellow, and the devil go with 
you for me!" said the man. 

"Hold on," said Keawe, "I don't want any more of this fun.  Here, 
take your bottle back." 

"You have bought it for less than I paid for it," replied the man, 
rubbing his hands.  "It is yours now; and, for my part, I am only 
concerned to see the back of you."  And with that he rang for his 
Chinese servant, and had Keawe shown out of the house. 

Now, when Keawe was in the street, with the bottle under his arm, 
he began to think.  "If all is true about this bottle, I may have 
made a losing bargain," thinks he.  "But perhaps the man was only 
fooling me."  The first thing he did was to count his money; the 
sum was exact - forty-nine dollars American money, and one Chili 
piece.  "That looks like the truth," said Keawe.  "Now I will try 
another part." 

The streets in that part of the city were as clean as a ship's 
decks, and though it was noon, there were no passengers.  Keawe set 
the bottle in the gutter and walked away.  Twice he looked back, 
and there was the milky, round-bellied bottle where he left it.  A 
third time he looked back, and turned a corner; but he had scarce 
done so, when something knocked upon his elbow, and behold! it was 
the long neck sticking up; and as for the round belly, it was 
jammed into the pocket of his pilot-coat. 

"And that looks like the truth," said Keawe. 

The next thing he did was to buy a cork-screw in a shop, and go 
apart into a secret place in the fields.  And there he tried to 
draw the cork, but as often as he put the screw in, out it came 
again, and the cork as whole as ever. 

"This is some new sort of cork," said Keawe, and all at once he 
began to shake and sweat, for he was afraid of that bottle. 

On his way back to the port-side, he saw a shop where a man sold 
shells and clubs from the wild islands, old heathen deities, old 
coined money, pictures from China and Japan, and all manner of 
things that sailors bring in their sea-chests.  And here he had an 
idea.  So he went in and offered the bottle for a hundred dollars. 
The man of the shop laughed at him at the first, and offered him 
five; but, indeed, it was a curious bottle - such glass was never 
blown in any human glassworks, so prettily the colours shone under 
the milky white, and so strangely the shadow hovered in the midst; 
so, after he had disputed awhile after the manner of his kind, the 
shop-man gave Keawe sixty silver dollars for the thing, and set it 
on a shelf in the midst of his window. 

"Now," said Keawe, "I have sold that for sixty which I bought for 
fifty - or, to say truth, a little less, because one of my dollars 
was from Chili.  Now I shall know the truth upon another point." 

So he went back on board his ship, and, when he opened his chest, 
there was the bottle, and had come more quickly than himself.  Now 
Keawe had a mate on board whose name was Lopaka. 

"What ails you?" said Lopaka, "that you stare in your chest?" 

They were alone in the ship's forecastle, and Keawe bound him to 
secrecy, and told all. 

"This is a very strange affair," said Lopaka; "and I fear you will 
be in trouble about this bottle.  But there is one point very clear 
- that you are sure of the trouble, and you had better have the 
profit in the bargain.  Make up your mind what you want with it; 
give the order, and if it is done as you desire, I will buy the 
bottle myself; for I have an idea of my own to get a schooner, and 
go trading through the islands." 

"That is not my idea," said Keawe; "but to have a beautiful house 
and garden on the Kona Coast, where I was born, the sun shining in 
at the door, flowers in the garden, glass in the windows, pictures 
on the walls, and toys and fine carpets on the tables, for all the 
world like the house I was in this day - only a storey higher, and 
with balconies all about like the King's palace; and to live there 
without care and make merry with my friends and relatives." 

"Well," said Lopaka, "let us carry it back with us to Hawaii; and 
if all comes true, as you suppose, I will buy the bottle, as I 
said, and ask a schooner." 

Upon that they were agreed, and it was not long before the ship 
returned to Honolulu, carrying Keawe and Lopaka, and the bottle. 
They were scarce come ashore when they met a friend upon the beach, 
who began at once to condole with Keawe. 

"I do not know what I am to be condoled about," said Keawe. 

"Is it possible you have not heard," said the friend, "your uncle - 
that good old man - is dead, and your cousin - that beautiful boy - 
was drowned at sea?" 

Keawe was filled with sorrow, and, beginning to weep and to lament, 
he forgot about the bottle.  But Lopaka was thinking to himself, 
and presently, when Keawe's grief was a little abated, "I have been 
thinking," said Lopaka.  "Had not your uncle lands in Hawaii, in 
the district of Kau?" 

"No," said Keawe, "not in Kau; they are on the mountain-side - a 
little way south of Hookena." 

"These lands will now be yours?" asked Lopaka. 

"And so they will," says Keawe, and began again to lament for his 
relatives. 

"No," said Lopaka, "do not lament at present.  I have a thought in 
my mind.  How if this should be the doing of the bottle?  For here 
is the place ready for your house." 

"If this be so," cried Keawe, "it is a very ill way to serve me by 
killing my relatives.  But it may be, indeed; for it was in just 
such a station that I saw the house with my mind's eye." 

"The house, however, is not yet built," said Lopaka. 

"No, nor like to be!" said Keawe; "for though my uncle has some 
coffee and ava and bananas, it will not be more than will keep me 
in comfort; and the rest of that land is the black lava." 

"Let us go to the lawyer," said Lopaka; "I have still this idea in 
my mind." 

Now, when they came to the lawyer's, it appeared Keawe's uncle had 
grown monstrous rich in the last days, and there was a fund of 
money. 

"And here is the money for the house!" cried Lopaka. 

"If you are thinking of a new house," said the lawyer, "here is the 
card of a new architect, of whom they tell me great things." 

"Better and better!" cried Lopaka.  "Here is all made plain for us. 
Let us continue to obey orders." 

So they went to the architect, and he had drawings of houses on his 
table. 

"You want something out of the way," said the architect.  "How do 
you like this?" and he handed a drawing to Keawe. 

Now, when Keawe set eyes on the drawing, he cried out aloud, for it 
was the picture of his thought exactly drawn. 

"I am in for this house," thought he.  "Little as I like the way it 
comes to me, I am in for it now, and I may as well take the good 
along with the evil." 

So he told the architect all that he wished, and how he would have 
that house furnished, and about the pictures on the wall and the 
knick-knacks on the tables; and he asked the man plainly for how 
much he would undertake the whole affair. 

The architect put many questions, and took his pen and made a 
computation; and when he had done he named the very sum that Keawe 
had inherited. 

Lopaka and Keawe looked at one another and nodded. 

"It is quite clear," thought Keawe, "that I am to have this house, 
whether or no.  It comes from the devil, and I fear I will get 
little good by that; and of one thing I am sure, I will make no 
more wishes as long as I have this bottle.  But with the house I am 
saddled, and I may as well take the good along with the evil." 

So he made his terms with the architect, and they signed a paper; 
and Keawe and Lopaka took ship again and sailed to Australia; for 
it was concluded between them they should not interfere at all, but 
leave the architect and the bottle imp to build and to adorn that 
house at their own pleasure. 

The voyage was a good voyage, only all the time Keawe was holding 
in his breath, for he had sworn he would utter no more wishes, and 
take no more favours from the devil.  The time was up when they got 
back.  The architect told them that the house was ready, and Keawe 
and Lopaka took a passage in the HALL, and went down Kona way to 
view the house, and see if all had been done fitly according to the 
thought that was in Keawe's mind. 

Now the house stood on the mountain side, visible to ships.  Above, 
the forest ran up into the clouds of rain; below, the black lava 
fell in cliffs, where the kings of old lay buried.  A garden 
bloomed about that house with every hue of flowers; and there was 
an orchard of papaia on the one hand and an orchard of breadfruit 
on the other, and right in front, toward the sea, a ship's mast had 
been rigged up and bore a flag.  As for the house, it was three 
storeys high, with great chambers and broad balconies on each.  The 
windows were of glass, so excellent that it was as clear as water 
and as bright as day.  All manner of furniture adorned the 
chambers.  Pictures hung upon the wall in golden frames: pictures 
of ships, and men fighting, and of the most beautiful women, and of 
singular places; nowhere in the world are there pictures of so 
bright a colour as those Keawe found hanging in his house.  As for 
the knick-knacks, they were extraordinary fine; chiming clocks and 
musical boxes, little men with nodding heads, books filled with 
pictures, weapons of price from all quarters of the world, and the 
most elegant puzzles to entertain the leisure of a solitary man. 
And as no one would care to live in such chambers, only to walk 
through and view them, the balconies were made so broad that a 
whole town might have lived upon them in delight; and Keawe knew 
not which to prefer, whether the back porch, where you got the land 
breeze, and looked upon the orchards and the flowers, or the front 
balcony, where you could drink the wind of the sea, and look down 
the steep wall of the mountain and see the HALL going by once a 
week or so between Hookena and the hills of Pele, or the schooners 
plying up the coast for wood and ava and bananas. 

When they had viewed all, Keawe and Lopaka sat on the porch. 

"Well," asked Lopaka, "is it all as you designed?" 

"Words cannot utter it," said Keawe.  "It is better than I dreamed, 
and I am sick with satisfaction." 

"There is but one thing to consider," said Lopaka; "all this may be 
quite natural, and the bottle imp have nothing whatever to say to 
it.  If I were to buy the bottle, and got no schooner after all, I 
should have put my hand in the fire for nothing.  I gave you my 
word, I know; but yet I think you would not grudge me one more 
proof." 

"I have sworn I would take no more favours," said Keawe.  "I have 
gone already deep enough." 

"This is no favour I am thinking of," replied Lopaka.  "It is only 
to see the imp himself.  There is nothing to be gained by that, and 
so nothing to be ashamed of; and yet, if I once saw him, I should 
be sure of the whole matter.  So indulge me so far, and let me see 
the imp; and, after that, here is the money in my hand, and I will 
buy it." 

"There is only one thing I am afraid of," said Keawe.  "The imp may 
be very ugly to view; and if you once set eyes upon him you might 
be very undesirous of the bottle." 

"I am a man of my word," said Lopaka.  "And here is the money 
betwixt us." 

"Very well," replied Keawe.  "I have a curiosity myself.  So come, 
let us have one look at you, Mr. Imp." 

Now as soon as that was said, the imp looked out of the bottle, and 
in again, swift as a lizard; and there sat Keawe and Lopaka turned 
to stone.  The night had quite come, before either found a thought 
to say or voice to say it with; and then Lopaka pushed the money 
over and took the bottle. 

"I am a man of my word," said he, "and had need to be so, or I 
would not touch this bottle with my foot.  Well, I shall get my 
schooner and a dollar or two for my pocket; and then I will be rid 
of this devil as fast as I can.  For to tell you the plain truth, 
the look of him has cast me down." 

"Lopaka," said Keawe, "do not you think any worse of me than you 
can help; I know it is night, and the roads bad, and the pass by 
the tombs an ill place to go by so late, but I declare since I have 
seen that little face, I cannot eat or sleep or pray till it is 
gone from me.  I will give you a lantern and a basket to put the 
bottle in, and any picture or fine thing in all my house that takes 
your fancy; - and be gone at once, and go sleep at Hookena with 
Nahinu." 

"Keawe," said Lopaka, "many a man would take this ill; above all, 
when I am doing you a turn so friendly, as to keep my word and buy 
the bottle; and for that matter, the night and the dark, and the 
way by the tombs, must be all tenfold more dangerous to a man with 
such a sin upon his conscience, and such a bottle under his arm. 
But for my part, I am so extremely terrified myself, I have not the 
heart to blame you.  Here I go then; and I pray God you may be 
happy in your house, and I fortunate with my schooner, and both get 
to heaven in the end in spite of the devil and his bottle." 

So Lopaka went down the mountain; and Keawe stood in his front 
balcony, and listened to the clink of the horse's shoes, and 
watched the lantern go shining down the path, and along the cliff 
of caves where the old dead are buried; and all the time he 
trembled and clasped his hands, and prayed for his friend, and gave 
glory to God that he himself was escaped out of that trouble. 

But the next day came very brightly, and that new house of his was 
so delightful to behold that he forgot his terrors.  One day 
followed another, and Keawe dwelt there in perpetual joy.  He had 
his place on the back porch; it was there he ate and lived, and 
read the stories in the Honolulu newspapers; but when anyone came 
by they would go in and view the chambers and the pictures.  And 
the fame of the house went far and wide; it was called KA-HALE NUI 
- the Great House - in all Kona; and sometimes the Bright House, 
for Keawe kept a Chinaman, who was all day dusting and furbishing; 
and the glass, and the gilt, and the fine stuffs, and the pictures, 
shone as bright as the morning.  As for Keawe himself, he could not 
walk in the chambers without singing, his heart was so enlarged; 
and when ships sailed by upon the sea, he would fly his colours on 
the mast. 

So time went by, until one day Keawe went upon a visit as far as 
Kailua to certain of his friends.  There he was well feasted; and 
left as soon as he could the next morning, and rode hard, for he 
was impatient to behold his beautiful house; and, besides, the 
night then coming on was the night in which the dead of old days go 
abroad in the sides of Kona; and having already meddled with the 
devil, he was the more chary of meeting with the dead.  A little 
beyond Honaunau, looking far ahead, he was aware of a woman bathing 
in the edge of the sea; and she seemed a well-grown girl, but he 
thought no more of it.  Then he saw her white shift flutter as she 
put it on, and then her red holoku; and by the time he came abreast 
of her she was done with her toilet, and had come up from the sea, 
and stood by the track-side in her red holoku, and she was all 
freshened with the bath, and her eyes shone and were kind.  Now 
Keawe no sooner beheld her than he drew rein. 

"I thought I knew everyone in this country," said he.  "How comes 
it that I do not know you?" 

"I am Kokua, daughter of Kiano," said the girl, "and I have just 
returned from Oahu.  Who are you?" 

"I will tell you who I am in a little," said Keawe, dismounting 
from his horse, "but not now.  For I have a thought in my mind, and 
if you knew who I was, you might have heard of me, and would not 
give me a true answer.  But tell me, first of all, one thing: Are 
you married?" 

At this Kokua laughed out aloud.  "It is you who ask questions," 
she said.  "Are you married yourself?" 

"Indeed, Kokua, I am not," replied Keawe, "and never thought to be 
until this hour.  But here is the plain truth.  I have met you here 
at the roadside, and I saw your eyes, which are like the stars, and 
my heart went to you as swift as a bird.  And so now, if you want 
none of me, say so, and I will go on to my own place; but if you 
think me no worse than any other young man, say so, too, and I will 
turn aside to your father's for the night, and to-morrow I will 
talk with the good man." 

Kokua said never a word, but she looked at the sea and laughed. 

"Kokua," said Keawe, "if you say nothing, I will take that for the 
good answer; so let us be stepping to your father's door." 

She went on ahead of him, still without speech; only sometimes she 
glanced back and glanced away again, and she kept the strings of 
her hat in her mouth. 

Now, when they had come to the door, Kiano came out on his 
verandah, and cried out and welcomed Keawe by name.  At that the 
girl looked over, for the fame of the great house had come to her 
ears; and, to be sure, it was a great temptation.  All that evening 
they were very merry together; and the girl was as bold as brass 
under the eyes of her parents, and made a mock of Keawe, for she 
had a quick wit.  The next day he had a word with Kiano, and found 
the girl alone. 

"Kokua," said he, "you made a mock of me all the evening; and it is 
still time to bid me go.  I would not tell you who I was, because I 
have so fine a house, and I feared you would think too much of that 
house and too little of the man that loves you.  Now you know all, 
and if you wish to have seen the last of me, say so at once." 

"No," said Kokua; but this time she did not laugh, nor did Keawe 
ask for more. 

This was the wooing of Keawe; things had gone quickly; but so an 
arrow goes, and the ball of a rifle swifter still, and yet both may 
strike the target.  Things had gone fast, but they had gone far 
also, and the thought of Keawe rang in the maiden's head; she heard 
his voice in the breach of the surf upon the lava, and for this 
young man that she had seen but twice she would have left father 
and mother and her native islands.  As for Keawe himself, his horse 
flew up the path of the mountain under the cliff of tombs, and the 
sound of the hoofs, and the sound of Keawe singing to himself for 
pleasure, echoed in the caverns of the dead.  He came to the Bright 
House, and still he was singing.  He sat and ate in the broad 
balcony, and the Chinaman wondered at his master, to hear how he 
sang between the mouthfuls.  The sun went down into the sea, and 
the night came; and Keawe walked the balconies by lamplight, high 
on the mountains, and the voice of his singing startled men on 
ships. 

"Here am I now upon my high place," he said to himself.  "Life may 
be no better; this is the mountain top; and all shelves about me 
toward the worse.  For the first time I will light up the chambers, 
and bathe in my fine bath with the hot water and the cold, and 
sleep alone in the bed of my bridal chamber." 

So the Chinaman had word, and he must rise from sleep and light the 
furnaces; and as he wrought below, beside the boilers, he heard his 
master singing and rejoicing above him in the lighted chambers. 
When the water began to be hot the Chinaman cried to his master; 
and Keawe went into the bathroom; and the Chinaman heard him sing 
as he filled the marble basin; and heard him sing, and the singing 
broken, as he undressed; until of a sudden, the song ceased.  The 
Chinaman listened, and listened; he called up the house to Keawe to 
ask if all were well, and Keawe answered him "Yes," and bade him go 
to bed; but there was no more singing in the Bright House; and all 
night long, the Chinaman heard his master's feet go round and round 
the balconies without repose. 

Now the truth of it was this: as Keawe undressed for his bath, he 
spied upon his flesh a patch like a patch of lichen on a rock, and 
it was then that he stopped singing.  For he knew the likeness of 
that patch, and knew that he was fallen in the Chinese Evil. (5) 

Now, it is a sad thing for any man to fall into this sickness.  And 
it would be a sad thing for anyone to leave a house so beautiful 
and so commodious, and depart from all his friends to the north 
coast of Molokai between the mighty cliff and the sea-breakers. 
But what was that to the case of the man Keawe, he who had met his 
love but yesterday, and won her but that morning, and now saw all 
his hopes break, in a moment, like a piece of glass? 

Awhile he sat upon the edge of the bath; then sprang, with a cry, 
and ran outside; and to and fro, to and fro, along the balcony, 
like one despairing. 

"Very willingly could I leave Hawaii, the home of my fathers," 
Keawe was thinking.  "Very lightly could I leave my house, the 
high-placed, the many-windowed, here upon the mountains.  Very 
bravely could I go to Molokai, to Kalaupapa by the cliffs, to live 
with the smitten and to sleep there, far from my fathers.  But what 
wrong have I done, what sin lies upon my soul, that I should have 
encountered Kokua coming cool from the sea-water in the evening? 
Kokua, the soul ensnarer!  Kokua, the light of my life!  Her may I 
never wed, her may I look upon no longer, her may I no more handle 
with my loving hand; and it is for this, it is for you, O Kokua! 
that I pour my lamentations!" 

Now you are to observe what sort of a man Keawe was, for he might 
have dwelt there in the Bright House for years, and no one been the 
wiser of his sickness; but he reckoned nothing of that, if he must 
lose Kokua.  And again, he might have wed Kokua even as he was; and 
so many would have done, because they have the souls of pigs; but 
Keawe loved the maid manfully, and he would do her no hurt and 
bring her in no danger. 

A little beyond the midst of the night, there came in his mind the 
recollection of that bottle.  He went round to the back porch, and 
called to memory the day when the devil had looked forth; and at 
the thought ice ran in his veins. 

"A dreadful thing is the bottle," thought Keawe, "and dreadful is 
the imp, and it is a dreadful thing to risk the flames of hell. 
But what other hope have I to cure my sickness or to wed Kokua? 
What!" he thought, "would I beard the devil once, only to get me a 
house, and not face him again to win Kokua?" 

Thereupon he called to mind it was the next day the HALL went by on 
her return to Honolulu.  "There must I go first," he thought, "and 
see Lopaka.  For the best hope that I have now is to find that same 
bottle I was so pleased to be rid of." 

Never a wink could he sleep; the food stuck in his throat; but he 
sent a letter to Kiano, and about the time when the steamer would 
be coming, rode down beside the cliff of the tombs.  It rained; his 
horse went heavily; he looked up at the black mouths of the caves, 
and he envied the dead that slept there and were done with trouble; 
and called to mind how he had galloped by the day before, and was 
astonished.  So he came down to Hookena, and there was all the 
country gathered for the steamer as usual.  In the shed before the 
store they sat and jested and passed the news; but there was no 
matter of speech in Keawe's bosom, and he sat in their midst and 
looked without on the rain falling on the houses, and the surf 
beating among the rocks, and the sighs arose in his throat. 

"Keawe of the Bright House is out of spirits," said one to another. 
Indeed, and so he was, and little wonder. 

Then the HALL came, and the whaleboat carried him on board.  The 
after-part of the ship was full of Haoles (6) who had been to visit 
the volcano, as their custom is; and the midst was crowded with 
Kanakas, and the forepart with wild bulls from Hilo and horses from 
Kau; but Keawe sat apart from all in his sorrow, and watched for 
the house of Kiano.  There it sat, low upon the shore in the black 
rocks, and shaded by the cocoa palms, and there by the door was a 
red holoku, no greater than a fly, and going to and fro with a 
fly's busyness.  "Ah, queen of my heart," he cried, "I'll venture 
my dear soul to win you!" 

Soon after, darkness fell, and the cabins were lit up, and the 
Haoles sat and played at the cards and drank whiskey as their 
custom is; but Keawe walked the deck all night; and all the next 
day, as they steamed under the lee of Maui or of Molokai, he was 
still pacing to and fro like a wild animal in a menagerie. 

Towards evening they passed Diamond Head, and came to the pier of 
Honolulu.  Keawe stepped out among the crowd and began to ask for 
Lopaka.  It seemed he had become the owner of a schooner - none 
better in the islands - and was gone upon an adventure as far as 
Pola-Pola or Kahiki; so there was no help to be looked for from 
Lopaka.  Keawe called to mind a friend of his, a lawyer in the town 
(I must not tell his name), and inquired of him.  They said he was 
grown suddenly rich, and had a fine new house upon Waikiki shore; 
and this put a thought in Keawe's head, and he called a hack and 
drove to the lawyer's house. . 

The house was all brand new, and the trees in the garden no greater 
than walking-sticks, and the lawyer, when he came, had the air of a 
man well pleased. 

"What can I do to serve you?" said the lawyer. 

"You are a friend of Lopaka's," replied Keawe, "and Lopaka 
purchased from me a certain piece of goods that I thought you might 
enable me to trace." 

The lawyer's face became very dark.  "I do not profess to 
misunderstand you, Mr. Keawe," said he, "though this is an ugly 
business to be stirring in.  You may be sure I know nothing, but 
yet I have a guess, and if you would apply in a certain quarter I 
think you might have news." 

And he named the name of a man, which, again, I had better not 
repeat.  So it was for days, and Keawe went from one to another, 
finding everywhere new clothes and carriages, and fine new houses 
and men everywhere in great contentment, although, to be sure, when 
he hinted at his business their faces would cloud over. 

"No doubt I am upon the track," thought Keawe.  "These new clothes 
and carriages are all the gifts of the little imp, and these glad 
faces are the faces of men who have taken their profit and got rid 
of the accursed thing in safety.  When I see pale cheeks and hear 
sighing, I shall know that I am near the bottle." 

So it befell at last that he was recommended to a Haole in 
Beritania Street.  When he came to the door, about the hour of the 
evening meal, there were the usual marks of the new house, and the 
young garden, and the electric light shining in the windows; but 
when the owner came, a shock of hope and fear ran through Keawe; 
for here was a young man, white as a corpse, and black about the 
eyes, the hair shedding from his head, and such a look in his 
countenance as a man may have when he is waiting for the gallows. 

"Here it is, to be sure," thought Keawe, and so with this man he 
noways veiled his errand.  "I am come to buy the bottle," said he. 

At the word, the young Haole of Beritania Street reeled against the 
wall. 

"The bottle!" he gasped.  "To buy the bottle!"  Then he seemed to 
choke, and seizing Keawe by the arm carried him into a room and 
poured out wine in two glasses. 

"Here is my respects," said Keawe, who had been much about with 
Haoles in his time.  "Yes," he added, "I am come to buy the bottle. 
What is the price by now?" 

At that word the young man let his glass slip through his fingers, 
and looked upon Keawe like a ghost. 

"The price," says he; "the price!  You do not know the price?" 

"It is for that I am asking you," returned Keawe.  "But why are you 
so much concerned?  Is there anything wrong about the price?" 

"It has dropped a great deal in value since your time, Mr. Keawe," 
said the young man stammering. 

"Well, well, I shall have the less to pay for it," says Keawe. 
"How much did it cost you?" 

The young man was as white as a sheet.  "Two cents," said he. 

"What?" cried Keawe, "two cents?  Why, then, you can only sell it 
for one.  And he who buys it - "  The words died upon Keawe's 
tongue; he who bought it could never sell it again, the bottle and 
the bottle imp must abide with him until he died, and when he died 
must carry him to the red end of hell. 

The young man of Beritania Street fell upon his knees.  "For God's 
sake buy it!" he cried.  "You can have all my fortune in the 
bargain.  I was mad when I bought it at that price.  I had 
embezzled money at my store; I was lost else; I must have gone to 
jail." 

"Poor creature," said Keawe, "you would risk your soul upon so 
desperate an adventure, and to avoid the proper punishment of your 
own disgrace; and you think I could hesitate with love in front of 
me.  Give me the bottle, and the change which I make sure you have 
all ready.  Here is a five-cent piece." 

It was as Keawe supposed; the young man had the change ready in a 
drawer; the bottle changed hands, and Keawe's fingers were no 
sooner clasped upon the stalk than he had breathed his wish to be a 
clean man.  And, sure enough, when he got home to his room, and 
stripped himself before a glass, his flesh was whole like an 
infant's.  And here was the strange thing: he had no sooner seen 
this miracle, than his mind was changed within him, and he cared 
naught for the Chinese Evil, and little enough for Kokua; and had 
but the one thought, that here he was bound to the bottle imp for 
time and for eternity, and had no better hope but to be a cinder 
for ever in the flames of hell.  Away ahead of him he saw them 
blaze with his mind's eye, and his soul shrank, and darkness fell 
upon the light. 

When Keawe came to himself a little, he was aware it was the night 
when the band played at the hotel.  Thither he went, because he 
feared to be alone; and there, among happy faces, walked to and 
fro, and heard the tunes go up and down, and saw Berger beat the 
measure, and all the while he heard the flames crackle, and saw the 
red fire burning in the bottomless pit.  Of a sudden the band 
played HIKI-AO-AO; that was a song that he had sung with Kokua, and 
at the strain courage returned to him. 

"It is done now," he thought, "and once more let me take the good 
along with the evil." 

So it befell that he returned to Hawaii by the first steamer, and 
as soon as it could be managed he was wedded to Kokua, and carried 
her up the mountain side to the Bright House. 

Now it was so with these two, that when they were together, Keawe's 
heart was stilled; but so soon as he was alone he fell into a 
brooding horror, and heard the flames crackle, and saw the red fire 
bum in the bottomless pit.  The girl, indeed, had come to him 
wholly; her heart leapt in her side at sight of him, her hand clung 
to his; and she was so fashioned from the hair upon her head to the 
nails upon her toes that none could see her without joy.  She was 
pleasant in her nature.  She had the good word always.  Full of 
song she was, and went to and fro in the Bright House, the 
brightest thing in its three storeys, carolling like the birds. 
And Keawe beheld and heard her with delight, and then must shrink 
upon one side, and weep and groan to think upon the price that he 
had paid for her; and then he must dry his eyes, and wash his face, 
and go and sit with her on the broad balconies, joining in her 
songs, and, with a sick spirit, answering her smiles. 

There came a day when her feet began to be heavy and her songs more 
rare; and now it was not Keawe only that would weep apart, but each 
would sunder from the other and sit in opposite balconies with the 
whole width of the Bright House betwixt.  Keawe was so sunk in his 
despair, he scarce observed the change, and was only glad he had 
more hours to sit alone and brood upon his destiny, and was not so 
frequently condemned to pull a smiling face on a sick heart.  But 
one day, coming softly through the house, he heard the sound of a 
child sobbing, and there was Kokua rolling her face upon the 
balcony floor, and weeping like the lost. 

"You do well to weep in this house, Kokua," he said.  "And yet I 
would give the head off my body that you (at least) might have been 
happy." 

"Happy!" she cried.  "Keawe, when you lived alone in your Bright 
House, you were the word of the island for a happy man; laughter 
and song were in your mouth, and your face was as bright as the 
sunrise.  Then you wedded poor Kokua; and the good God knows what 
is amiss in her - but from that day you have not smiled.  Oh!" she 
cried, "what ails me?  I thought I was pretty, and I knew I loved 
him.  What ails me that I throw this cloud upon my husband?" 

"Poor Kokua," said Keawe.  He sat down by her side, and sought to 
take her hand; but that she plucked away.  "Poor Kokua," he said, 
again.  "My poor child - my pretty.  And I had thought all this 
while to spare you!  Well, you shall know all.  Then, at least, you 
will pity poor Keawe; then you will understand how much he loved 
you in the past - that he dared hell for your possession - and how 
much he loves you still (the poor condemned one), that he can yet 
call up a smile when he beholds you." 

With that, he told her all, even from the beginning. 

"You have done this for me?" she cried "Ah, well, then what do I 
care!" - and she clasped and wept upon him. 

"Ah, child!" said Keawe, "and yet, when I consider of the fire of 
hell, I care a good deal!" 

"Never tell me," said she; "no man can be lost because he loved 
Kokua, and no other fault.  I tell you, Keawe, I shall save you 
with these hands, or perish in your company.  What! you loved me, 
and gave your soul, and you think I will not die to save you in 
return?" 

"Ah, my dear! you might die a hundred times, and what difference 
would that make?" he cried, "except to leave me lonely till the 
time comes of my damnation?" 

"You know nothing," said she.  "I was educated in a school in 
Honolulu; I am no common girl.  And I tell you, I shall save my 
lover.  What is this you say about a cent?  But all the world is 
not American.  In England they have a piece they call a farthing, 
which is about half a cent.  Ah! sorrow!" she cried, "that makes it 
scarcely better, for the buyer must be lost, and we shall find none 
so brave as my Keawe!  But, then, there is France; they have a 
small coin there which they call a centime, and these go five to 
the cent or there-about.  We could not do better.  Come, Keawe, let 
us go to the French islands; let us go to Tahiti, as fast as ships 
can bear us.  There we have four centimes, three centimes, two 
centimes, one centime; four possible sales to come and go on; and 
two of us to push the bargain.  Come, my Keawe! kiss me, and banish 
care.  Kokua will defend you." 

"Gift of God!" he cried.  "I cannot think that God will punish me 
for desiring aught so good!  Be it as you will, then; take me where 
you please: I put my life and my salvation in your hands." 

Early the next day Kokua was about her preparations.  She took 
Keawe's chest that he went with sailoring; and first she put the 
bottle in a corner; and then packed it with the richest of their 
clothes and the bravest of the knick-knacks in the house.  "For," 
said she, "we must seem to be rich folks, or who will believe in 
the bottle?"  All the time of her preparation she was as gay as a 
bird; only when she looked upon Keawe, the tears would spring in 
her eye, and she must run and kiss him.  As for Keawe, a weight was 
off his soul; now that he had his secret shared, and some hope in 
front of him, he seemed like a new man, his feet went lightly on 
the earth, and his breath was good to him again.  Yet was terror 
still at his elbow; and ever and again, as the wind blows out a 
taper, hope died in him, and he saw the flames toss and the red 
fire burn in hell. 

It was given out in the country they were gone pleasuring to the 
States, which was thought a strange thing, and yet not so strange 
as the truth, if any could have guessed it.  So they went to 
Honolulu in the HALL, and thence in the UMATILLA to San Francisco 
with a crowd of Haoles, and at San Francisco took their passage by 
the mail brigantine, the TROPIC BIRD, for Papeete, the chief place 
of the French in the south islands.  Thither they came, after a 
pleasant voyage, on a fair day of the Trade Wind, and saw the reef 
with the surf breaking, and Motuiti with its palms, and the 
schooner riding within-side, and the white houses of the town low 
down along the shore among green trees, and overhead the mountains 
and the clouds of Tahiti, the wise island. 

It was judged the most wise to hire a house, which they did 
accordingly, opposite the British Consul's, to make a great parade 
of money, and themselves conspicuous with carriages and horses. 
This it was very easy to do, so long as they had the bottle in 
their possession; for Kokua was more bold than Keawe, and, whenever 
she had a mind, called on the imp for twenty or a hundred dollars. 
At this rate they soon grew to be remarked in the town; and the 
strangers from Hawaii, their riding and their driving, the fine 
holokus and the rich lace of Kokua, became the matter of much talk. 

They got on well after the first with the Tahitian language, which 
is indeed like to the Hawaiian, with a change of certain letters; 
and as soon as they had any freedom of speech, began to push the 
bottle.  You are to consider it was not an easy subject to 
introduce; it was not easy to persuade people you were in earnest, 
when you offered to sell them for four centimes the spring of 
health and riches inexhaustible.  It was necessary besides to 
explain the dangers of the bottle; and either people disbelieved 
the whole thing and laughed, or they thought the more of the darker 
part, became overcast with gravity, and drew away from Keawe and 
Kokua, as from persons who had dealings with the devil.  So far 
from gaining ground, these two began to find they were avoided in 
the town; the children ran away from them screaming, a thing 
intolerable to Kokua; Catholics crossed themselves as they went by; 
and all persons began with one accord to disengage themselves from 
their advances. 

Depression fell upon their spirits.  They would sit at night in 
their new house, after a day's weariness, and not exchange one 
word, or the silence would be broken by Kokua bursting suddenly 
into sobs.  Sometimes they would pray together; sometimes they 
would have the bottle out upon the floor, and sit all evening 
watching how the shadow hovered in the midst.  At such times they 
would be afraid to go to rest.  It was long ere slumber came to 
them, and, if either dozed off, it would be to wake and find the 
other silently weeping in the dark, or, perhaps, to wake alone, the 
other having fled from the house and the neighbourhood of that 
bottle, to pace under the bananas in the little garden, or to 
wander on the beach by moonlight. 

One night it was so when Kokua awoke.  Keawe was gone.  She felt in 
the bed and his place was cold.  Then fear fell upon her, and she 
sat up in bed.  A little moonshine filtered through the shutters. 
The room was bright, and she could spy the bottle on the floor. 
Outside it blew high, the great trees of the avenue cried aloud, 
and the fallen leaves rattled in the verandah.  In the midst of 
this Kokua was aware of another sound; whether of a beast or of a 
man she could scarce tell, but it was as sad as death, and cut her 
to the soul.  Softly she arose, set the door ajar, and looked forth 
into the moonlit yard.  There, under the bananas, lay Keawe, his 
mouth in the dust, and as he lay he moaned. 

It was Kokua's first thought to run forward and console him; her 
second potently withheld her.  Keawe had borne himself before his 
wife like a brave man; it became her little in the hour of weakness 
to intrude upon his shame.  With the thought she drew back into the 
house. 

"Heaven!" she thought, "how careless have I been - how weak!  It is 
he, not I, that stands in this eternal peril; it was he, not I, 
that took the curse upon his soul.  It is for my sake, and for the 
love of a creature of so little worth and such poor help, that he 
now beholds so close to him the flames of hell - ay, and smells the 
smoke of it, lying without there in the wind and moonlight.  Am I 
so dull of spirit that never till now I have surmised my duty, or 
have I seen it before and turned aside?  But now, at least, I take 
up my soul in both the hands of my affection; now I say farewell to 
the white steps of heaven and the waiting faces of my friends.  A 
love for a love, and let mine be equalled with Keawe's!  A soul for 
a soul, and be it mine to perish!" 

She was a deft woman with her hands, and was soon apparelled.  She 
took in her hands the change - the precious centimes they kept ever 
at their side; for this coin is little used, and they had made 
provision at a Government office.  When she was forth in the avenue 
clouds came on the wind, and the moon was blackened.  The town 
slept, and she knew not whither to turn till she heard one coughing 
in the shadow of the trees. 

"Old man," said Kokua, "what do you here abroad in the cold night?" 

The old man could scarce express himself for coughing, but she made 
out that he was old and poor, and a stranger in the island. 

"Will you do me a service?" said Kokua.  "As one stranger to 
another, and as an old man to a young woman, will you help a 
daughter of Hawaii?" 

"Ah," said the old man.  "So you are the witch from the eight 
islands, and even my old soul you seek to entangle.  But I have 
heard of you, and defy your wickedness." 

"Sit down here," said Kokua, "and let me tell you a tale."  And she 
told him the story of Keawe from the beginning to the end. 

"And now," said she, "I am his wife, whom he bought with his soul's 
welfare.  And what should I do?  If I went to him myself and 
offered to buy it, he would refuse.  But if you go, he will sell it 
eagerly; I will await you here; you will buy it for four centimes, 
and I will buy it again for three.  And the Lord strengthen a poor 
girl!" 

"If you meant falsely," said the old man, "I think God would strike 
you dead." 

"He would!" cried Kokua.  "Be sure he would.  I could not be so 
treacherous - God would not suffer it." 

"Give me the four centimes and await me here," said the old man. 

Now, when Kokua stood alone in the street, her spirit died.  The 
wind roared in the trees, and it seemed to her the rushing of the 
flames of hell; the shadows tossed in the light of the street lamp, 
and they seemed to her the snatching hands of evil ones.  If she 
had had the strength, she must have run away, and if she had had 
the breath she must have screamed aloud; but, in truth, she could 
do neither, and stood and trembled in the avenue, like an 
affrighted child. 

Then she saw the old man returning, and he had the bottle in his 
hand. 

"I have done your bidding," said he.  "I left your husband weeping 
like a child; to-night he will sleep easy."  And he held the bottle 
forth. 

"Before you give it me," Kokua panted, "take the good with the evil 
- ask to be delivered from your cough." 

"I am an old man," replied the other, "and too near the gate of the 
grave to take a favour from the devil.  But what is this?  Why do 
you not take the bottle?  Do you hesitate?" 

"Not hesitate!" cried Kokua.  "I am only weak.  Give me a moment. 
It is my hand resists, my flesh shrinks back from the accursed 
thing.  One moment only!" 

The old man looked upon Kokua kindly.  "Poor child!" said he, "you 
fear; your soul misgives you.  Well, let me keep it.  I am old, and 
can never more be happy in this world, and as for the next - " 

"Give it me!" gasped Kokua.  "There is your money.  Do you think I 
am so base as that?  Give me the bottle." 

"God bless you, child," said the old man. 

Kokua concealed the bottle under her holoku, said farewell to the 
old man, and walked off along the avenue, she cared not whither. 
For all roads were now the same to her, and led equally to hell. 
Sometimes she walked, and sometimes ran; sometimes she screamed out 
loud in the night, and sometimes lay by the wayside in the dust and 
wept.  All that she had heard of hell came back to her; she saw the 
flames blaze, and she smelt the smoke, and her flesh withered on 
the coals. 

Near day she came to her mind again, and returned to the house.  It 
was even as the old man said - Keawe slumbered like a child.  Kokua 
stood and gazed upon his face. 

"Now, my husband," said she, "it is your turn to sleep.  When you 
wake it will be your turn to sing and laugh.  But for poor Kokua, 
alas! that meant no evil - for poor Kokua no more sleep, no more 
singing, no more delight, whether in earth or heaven." 

With that she lay down in the bed by his side, and her misery was 
so extreme that she fell in a deep slumber instantly. 

Late in the morning her husband woke her and gave her the good 
news.  It seemed he was silly with delight, for he paid no heed to 
her distress, ill though she dissembled it.  The words stuck in her 
mouth, it mattered not; Keawe did the speaking.  She ate not a 
bite, but who was to observe it? for Keawe cleared the dish.  Kokua 
saw and heard him, like some strange thing in a dream; there were 
times when she forgot or doubted, and put her hands to her brow; to 
know herself doomed and hear her husband babble, seemed so 
monstrous. 

All the while Keawe was eating and talking, and planning the time 
of their return, and thanking her for saving him, and fondling her, 
and calling her the true helper after all.  He laughed at the old 
man that was fool enough to buy that bottle. 

"A worthy old man he seemed," Keawe said.  "But no one can judge by 
appearances.  For why did the old reprobate require the bottle?" 

"My husband," said Kokua, humbly, "his purpose may have been good." 

Keawe laughed like an angry man. 

"Fiddle-de-dee!" cried Keawe.  "An old rogue, I tell you; and an 
old ass to boot.  For the bottle was hard enough to sell at four 
centimes; and at three it will be quite impossible.  The margin is 
not broad enough, the thing begins to smell of scorching - brrr!" 
said he, and shuddered.  "It is true I bought it myself at a cent, 
when I knew not there were smaller coins.  I was a fool for my 
pains; there will never be found another: and whoever has that 
bottle now will carry it to the pit." 

"O my husband!" said Kokua.  "Is it not a terrible thing to save 
oneself by the eternal ruin of another?  It seems to me I could not 
laugh.  I would be humbled.  I would be filled with melancholy.  I 
would pray for the poor holder." 

Then Keawe, because he felt the truth of what she said, grew the 
more angry.  "Heighty-teighty!" cried he.  "You may be filled with 
melancholy if you please.  It is not the mind of a good wife.  If 
you thought at all of me, you would sit shamed." 

Thereupon he went out, and Kokua was alone. 

What chance had she to sell that bottle at two centimes?  None, she 
perceived.  And if she had any, here was her husband hurrying her 
away to a country where there was nothing lower than a cent.  And 
here - on the morrow of her sacrifice - was her husband leaving her 
and blaming her. 

She would not even try to profit by what time she had, but sat in 
the house, and now had the bottle out and viewed it with 
unutterable fear, and now, with loathing, hid it out of sight. 

By-and-by, Keawe came back, and would have her take a drive. 

"My husband, I am ill," she said.  "I am out of heart.  Excuse me, 
I can take no pleasure." 

Then was Keawe more wroth than ever.  With her, because he thought 
she was brooding over the case of the old man; and with himself, 
because he thought she was right, and was ashamed to be so happy. 

"This is your truth," cried he, "and this your affection!  Your 
husband is just saved from eternal ruin, which he encountered for 
the love of you - and you can take no pleasure!  Kokua, you have a 
disloyal heart." 

He went forth again furious, and wandered in the town all day.  He 
met friends, and drank with them; they hired a carriage and drove 
into the country, and there drank again.  All the time Keawe was 
ill at ease, because he was taking this pastime while his wife was 
sad, and because he knew in his heart that she was more right than 
he; and the knowledge made him drink the deeper. 

Now there was an old brutal Haole drinking with him, one that had 
been a boatswain of a whaler, a runaway, a digger in gold mines, a 
convict in prisons.  He had a low mind and a foul mouth; he loved 
to drink and to see others drunken; and he pressed the glass upon 
Keawe.  Soon there was no more money in the company. 

"Here, you!" says the boatswain, "you are rich, you have been 
always saying.  You have a bottle or some foolishness." 

"Yes," says Keawe, "I am rich; I will go back and get some money 
from my wife, who keeps it." 

"That's a bad idea, mate," said the boatswain.  "Never you trust a 
petticoat with dollars.  They're all as false as water; you keep an 
eye on her." 

Now, this word struck in Keawe's mind; for he was muddled with what 
he had been drinking. 

"I should not wonder but she was false, indeed," thought he.  "Why 
else should she be so cast down at my release?  But I will show her 
I am not the man to be fooled.  I will catch her in the act." 

Accordingly, when they were back in town, Keawe bade the boatswain 
wait for him at the corner, by the old calaboose, and went forward 
up the avenue alone to the door of his house.  The night had come 
again; there was a light within, but never a sound; and Keawe crept 
about the corner, opened the back door softly, and looked in. 

There was Kokua on the floor, the lamp at her side; before her was 
a milk-white bottle, with a round belly and a long neck; and as she 
viewed it, Kokua wrung her hands. 

A long time Keawe stood and looked in the doorway.  At first he was 
struck stupid; and then fear fell upon him that the bargain had 
been made amiss, and the bottle had come back to him as it came at 
San Francisco; and at that his knees were loosened, and the fumes 
of the wine departed from his head like mists off a river in the 
morning.  And then he had another thought; and it was a strange 
one, that made his cheeks to burn. 

"I must make sure of this," thought he. 

So he closed the door, and went softly round the corner again, and 
then came noisily in, as though he were but now returned.  And, lo! 
by the time he opened the front door no bottle was to be seen; and 
Kokua sat in a chair and started up like one awakened out of sleep. 

"I have been drinking all day and making merry," said Keawe.  "I 
have been with good companions, and now I only come back for money, 
and return to drink and carouse with them again." 

Both his face and voice were as stern as judgment, but Kokua was 
too troubled to observe. 

"You do well to use your own, my husband," said she, and her words 
trembled. 

"O, I do well in all things," said Keawe, and he went straight to 
the chest and took out money.  But he looked besides in the corner 
where they kept the bottle, and there was no bottle there. 

At that the chest heaved upon the floor like a sea-billow, and the 
house span about him like a wreath of smoke, for he saw he was lost 
now, and there was no escape.  "It is what I feared," he thought. 
"It is she who has bought it." 

And then he came to himself a little and rose up; but the sweat 
streamed on his face as thick as the rain and as cold as the well- 
water. 

"Kokua," said he, "I said to you to-day what ill became me.  Now I 
return to carouse with my jolly companions," and at that he laughed 
a little quietly.  "I will take more pleasure in the cup if you 
forgive me." 

She clasped his knees in a moment; she kissed his knees with 
flowing tears. 

"O," she cried, "I asked but a kind word!" 

"Let us never one think hardly of the other," said Keawe, and was 
gone out of the house. 

Now, the money that Keawe had taken was only some of that store of 
centime pieces they had laid in at their arrival.  It was very sure 
he had no mind to be drinking.  His wife had given her soul for 
him, now he must give his for hers; no other thought was in the 
world with him. 

At the corner, by the old calaboose, there was the boatswain 
waiting. 

"My wife has the bottle," said Keawe, "and, unless you help me to 
recover it, there can be no more money and no more liquor to- 
night." 

"You do not mean to say you are serious about that bottle?" cried 
the boatswain. 

"There is the lamp," said Keawe.  "Do I look as if I was jesting?" 

"That is so," said the boatswain.  "You look as serious as a 
ghost." 

"Well, then," said Keawe, "here are two centimes; you must go to my 
wife in the house, and offer her these for the bottle, which (if I 
am not much mistaken) she will give you instantly.  Bring it to me 
here, and I will buy it back from you for one; for that is the law 
with this bottle, that it still must be sold for a less sum.  But 
whatever you do, never breathe a word to her that you have come 
from me." 

"Mate, I wonder are you making a fool of me?" asked the boatswain. 

"It will do you no harm if I am," returned Keawe. 

"That is so, mate," said the boatswain. 

"And if you doubt me," added Keawe, "you can try.  As soon as you 
are clear of the house, wish to have your pocket full of money, or 
a bottle of the best rum, or what you please, and you will see the 
virtue of the thing." 

"Very well, Kanaka," says the boatswain.  "I will try; but if you 
are having your fun out of me, I will take my fun out of you with a 
belaying pin." 

So the whaler-man went off up the avenue; and Keawe stood and 
waited.  It was near the same spot where Kokua had waited the night 
before; but Keawe was more resolved, and never faltered in his 
purpose; only his soul was bitter with despair. 

It seemed a long time he had to wait before he heard a voice 
singing in the darkness of the avenue.  He knew the voice to be the 
boatswain's; but it was strange how drunken it appeared upon a 
sudden. 

Next, the man himself came stumbling into the light of the lamp. 
He had the devil's bottle buttoned in his coat; another bottle was 
in his hand; and even as he came in view he raised it to his mouth 
and drank. 

"You have it," said Keawe.  "I see that." 

"Hands off!" cried the boatswain, jumping back.  "Take a step near 
me, and I'll smash your mouth.  You thought you could make a cat's- 
paw of me, did you?" 

"What do you mean?" cried Keawe. 

"Mean?" cried the boatswain.  "This is a pretty good bottle, this 
is; that's what I mean.  How I got it for two centimes I can't make 
out; but I'm sure you shan't have it for one." 

"You mean you won't sell?" gasped Keawe. 

"No, SIR!" cried the boatswain.  "But I'll give you a drink of the 
rum, if you like." 

"I tell you," said Keawe, "the man who has that bottle goes to 
hell." 

"I reckon I'm going anyway," returned the sailor; "and this 
bottle's the best thing to go with I've struck yet.  No, sir!" he 
cried again, "this is my bottle now, and you can go and fish for 
another." 

"Can this be true?" Keawe cried.  "For your own sake, I beseech 
you, sell it me!" 

"I don't value any of your talk," replied the boatswain.  "You 
thought I was a flat; now you see I'm not; and there's an end.  If 
you won't have a swallow of the rum, I'll have one myself.  Here's 
your health, and good-night to you!" 

So off he went down the avenue towards town, and there goes the 
bottle out of the story. 

But Keawe ran to Kokua light as the wind; and great was their joy 
that night; and great, since then, has been the peace of all their 
days in the Bright House. 

Tønsberg: Høgskolen i Vestfold : Vestfold Collge, 1999.  Go to: [Digital library]  
Robert Louis Stevenson:  Island Nights' Entertainments. 
Go to: | Top |Contents | Next story: Isle of voices |