Lost in the mountains, James and Richard stumble across a magnificent mansion and seek shelter. An Old Man invites them in and says they too could become as rich as he is if they buy a special bottle from him. The bottle was tempered in the flames of hell and contains an Imp who grants every wish. But there is a problem – if you die in possession of the bottle your soul is condemned to hell, and the only way to get rid of the bottle is to sell it for less money than it was bought for. Richard persuades James to part with his last $50 to buy the bottle.
James is now a property magnate, but he is not well. Richard wants to buy the bottle from James and suggests they ask the Imp to show itself. After a brief terrifying glimpse James agrees to sell the bottle to Richard. As he leaves Richard introduces a new client – Catherine. James is smitten.
Catherine and James have just got married. They are overjoyed and plan to start a family.
On their third wedding anniversary Catherine has discovered she has a terminal illness. Unaware of this, James showers her with gifts. As Catherine tries to break the news, James leaps to the conclusion she is pregnant. His hopes are dashed when Catherine tells him she is dying and that there will be no child, no family. He promises to do everything he can to cure her illness and vows to brave Hell to keep her alive.
Now a recluse, Richard is still haunted by the bottle and its Imp. James arrives seeking to buy the bottle in order to save Catherine. Richard tells him he has sold the bottle and gives him an address. What’s more, he has bought and sold the bottle many times and the price is now dangerously low.
Catherine’s health has been restored but the bottle once again has James in its grip. Not understanding his unhappiness she asks if he no longer loves her. James reveals the truth about the bottle. She is intrigued by its power and wonders if they can wish for a child. This horrifies James. He wants to sell the bottle but because he bought it for a penny this is no longer possible. Catherine has a solution; they can travel to a country with a lower denomination currency where they will be able to sell it for less.
On a remote island, after months of travel, James’s hopes of selling the bottle are fading until a Vagrant appears and offers to buy it. James sells it for 3 centimes. Once the Vagrant’s wish for money is granted he demands Catherine buy the bottle from him for 2 centimes, as she had previously promised. James returns, celebrating the sale of the bottle not realising Catherine has now bought it. Richard arrives in search of the bottle which he is desperate to buy once more. James is appalled to discover Catherine now has it. Richard pushes 1 centime into Catherine’s hand and takes the bottle. He wishes her and James a healthy child, then uncorks the bottle and consumes its contents. Catherine feels something move inside her.