This is a story about a little girl named Gwen who lived with her family in a big tall apartment building in the city.
One night, at two o'clock in the morning, she woke up. She sat up in her bed. Gwen didn't know why she'd woken up, but she was awake just the same. She looked around her room. It was of course night time, and so the room was dark. But there was a full moon shining in through the window and she could see most of the things in her room.
Nothing looked different. What had made her wake up?
She looked out of the window at the night sky and the moon. The night was clear, and cold. Then she noticed a cat sitting on the windowsill, a cat with pure white fur. The cat turned and looked at Gwen. Gwen looked at the cat. She didn't know this cat. It certainly didn't belong to her family. Pets weren't even allowed in the building, as Gwen's mother had reminded her every time Gwen begged for a kitten.
But a cat was here now. It had walked across Gwen's bed, and jumped from there onto the windowsill. This of course was what had caused Gwen to wake up.
The cat noticed that Gwen was awake and jumped onto her lap. "Oh, nice kitty!" said Gwen, as she stroked the cat. The cat rubbed his head against Gwen's chin.
Then the cat jumped down from the bed and walked slowly towards the door. He stopped in the doorway and looked back at Gwen, as if to say "Come on!"
Gwen jumped excitedly out of bed, put on her robe and slippers, and followed the cat. The cat was silent of course, but Gwen had to make a point of moving quietly as she followed that cat past the bedroom doors of the other members of her family.
The cat wandered into the kitchen. There, Gwen was amazed to see something she had never before seen in her kitchen: an elevator.
There was no doubt about it. It was an elevator, right there in the kitchen, just to the left of the refrigerator. The doors of the elevator stood open, waiting, and light from inside the elevator streamed out onto the kitchen floor. The cat walked directly into the elevator and plopped down on some throw pillows that covered the floor. Just then, a little bell rang, and Gwen realized that the elevator would soon be departing. She ran across the kitchen floor and slipped into the elevator just as the doors were beginning to close.
Unlike the other elevators in Gwen's apartment building, this elevator was tiny. It was just the right size for Gwen. If Gwen's father had tried to get into this elevator, he'd have had to stoop way down, and he would have bumped his head if he'd tried to stand up inside.
Gwen looked around the elevator. The walls were beautiful polished wood, with gleaming brass fittings. The floor was covered with plush red carpet, and brightly colored throw pillows lay all around. The control panel was at just the right level for Gwen; she could push the buttons without standing on her tip toes the way she had to with the normal building elevators.
Gwen looked more closely at the buttons on the control panel. The control panel had four buttons. The top most button said "Gwen's Kitchen." Below that were buttons that said "Captain Murphy's Stateroom", "The Ogre's Dungeon", and "Tea Room of the Duke and Duchess". At the very bottom of the panel was an gold plate engraved with the words "The Magic Elevator Corporation of America".
"Where do you want to go?" asked a quiet voice.
"I'm not sure," said Gwen. "The tea room sounds nice. I don't think I want to go to the Ogre's dungeon, though."
"Oh, the Ogre's not so bad," said the voice. "And he has a truly beautiful garden."
"Yes, but the elevator goes to his dungeon, not his garden," said Gwen, turning away from the panel. She'd been so preoccupied by the control panel that she hadn't gotten around to wondering who it was that had been speaking to her. When she realized who was speaking, she was greatly surprised. "Hey!" she said. "You can't talk! You're a cat!"
"Well, normally I can't talk, it's true," said the cat. "But I can when I'm in the magic elevator. Hey, put me on your shoulder."
Gwen lifted the cat up and put him on her shoulder. He had to sink his claws into her robe for support, but since it was a thick, terricloth robe, his claws didn't scratch Gwen.
Gwen turned her head to look at the cat on her shoulder. "What's your name?" she asked.
"Kirby," said Kirby. "Now then, where do you want to go first?"
"The tea room," said Gwen. And she impulsively reached out and pushed the button labeled "Tea Room of the Duke and Duchess".
The elevator lurched upwards.
Kirby said "We've got a long way to go. You might want to sit down and make yourself comfortable."
"OK," said Gwen, and she sat down on the big pile of pillows. The pillows were very soft and Gwen felt very comfortable. Kirby crawled off of Gwen's shoulder and curled up in her lap.
"Where are we going?" asked Gwen.
"To the see the Duke and Duchess, of course," said Kirby.
The elevator rumbled quietly as it moved.