"Where to next?" asked Kirby, after he and Gwen were back inside the elevator and the doors had once again closed.
It seemed as though Gwen's mind had long been made up. "Captain Murphy's Stateroom," she announced, as she reached out and pushed the appropriate button.
The elevator lurched again, this time headed downwards. Gwen flopped down onto the pillows. Then she stood up again, in shock and dismay. "The button's gone!" she cried.
It was true. The button that used to read "Tea Room of the Duke and Duchess" was gone. It had vanished from the control panel. Gwen knew exactly where the button used to be, but now there was nothing there except smooth metal.
She looked at Kirby and said "What's going on? I know that button used to be there! How could we have gone to the Tea Room if there wasn't any Tea Room button?"
Kirby purred and said "Well, it is, after all, a MAGIC elevator."
Gwen flopped down on the pillows again, very disappointed. "But now I won't be able to go back! I was planning to come back tomorrow, and the day after that, and next week and next year! I want to see the Duke and Duchess again, and I want to see the view from the palace again, and I want to eat those wonderful Moonbeam cookies again!"
Kirby didn't say anything. The little room was silent except for a slight rumbling of the elevator and the soft purring of Kirby. Gwen lay back on the pillows, feeling very depressed.
Suddenly, however, the little elevator bell rang again, and Gwen forgot all about the tea room in her excitement to see what Captain Murphy's stateroom was all about. Gwen followed Kirby out of the elevator.
They were on a ship, in a stateroom below deck. The ship was rocking gently back and forth, and Gwen could hear the waves lapping against the hull and the creaking of the wooden decks as the ship moved back and forth in the water. And very faintly, Gwen could also hear a man laughing. Somewhere in the distance, a man was howling with laughter and screaming with joy.
Gwen looked around. It was still nighttime, and the room she was in was not lit. Moonlight shone in through the portholes and in the dim light she could discern a bunkbed and a desk, but little else.
Kirby was leaving, so Gwen quickly followed him, out into a hallway and up a flight of stairs, out onto the deck of a huge, wood-masted sailing ship. Looking up at the sky, Gwen saw lights! It wasn't the moon after all. They were somewhere else in the world, in a place were the moon had set. The light in the sky now was the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights!
Gwen suddenly realized that it was very cold, and looking out at the ocean she saw icebergs floating by. She pulled her terricloth robe as tightly around her as she could and ran off after Kirby, who was trotting away towards the far end of the ship, towards the sounds of the laughing man, who must of course be Captain Murphy.
Captain Murphy was standing at the very back end of the ship, looking up at the sky and dancing around with excitement and joy at the beauty of what he saw. He looked like a bear; he had a big scruffy beard and long hair and was wearing a huge fur coat. Fire burned in his eyes; Captain Murphy seemed like a crazy man.
Kirby had jumped up onto a railing and from there had jumped onto Captain Murphy's shoulder. "Aha!" laughed Captain Murphy. "So it's you, Kirby! How have you been?"
Kirby bashed his little head against Captain Murphy's chin and purred.
"Look at the lights, tonight, Kirby! Have you ever seen them look so grand!" And he burst into a long rolling laugh, deep and hearty and happy.
The lights were indeed grand. Waves of green, curtains of blue, shimmering ribbons and yellow and red. The sky boiled and churned and danced with color. Gwen stood in awe and amazement. It was like nothing she'd ever seen in her life, even on TV.
"And who might you be, little girl?" asked Captain Murphy.
"I- I'm Gwen," said Gwen, with difficulty. The northern lights flickered in her eyes, and she was barely able to speak.
"You picked a good night to visit," said the Captain. "The lights are really grand tonight."
Gwen nodded solemnly.
Gwen and Kirby and the Captain stood on the deck of the big sailing ship for close to an hour, watching in amazement as the beautiful northern lights danced and exploded and shimmered across the night sky. The cold bite at Gwen's toes, but it was worth it. Never in her life had she seen anything as beautiful as the Northern Lights that night. Then suddenly, they stopped.
They waited for about a minute, but the lights didn't come back.
"That's it," said Captain Murphy. "Show's over. Time for bed."
Gwen followed the Captain back to his stateroom. There, Captain Murphy collapsed on the bed. "Good night, little girl," he said.
Kirby had jumped down from the Captain's shoulder and was back inside the elevator, waiting for Gwen.
"Um, good night, Captain Murphy," said Gwen. The Captain did not answer her, so Gwen turned away from him and got back on the elevator. The doors slid shut.
For about two minutes, Gwen just stood there. She was still dazzled by what she had seen.
"Well?" said Kirby. "Time to press a button, don't you think?"
Gwen came to her senses and looked around. "Yes, you're right Kirby," she said. She looked at the control panel. The button for Captain Murphy's Stateroom was no longer there.
"I can't go back to the ship, either," said Gwen glumly. "The 'Captain Murphy' button has disappeared too."
"Yes, I see," said Kirby gently. "But do you remember what the Captain was like? Do you remember the ship, and the Northern Lights?"
"Yes," said Gwen. "In fact, if I close my eyes, I can still see them."
"Good!" said Kirby. "And can you still remember what the Moonbeam cookies tasted like, and what it was like to be in the glass palace in the clouds?"
"Good!" said Kirby. "See? You have memories. You don't need to be able to go there again."
"But I want to go there again!" cried Gwen. "I want to be able to see the Northern Lights again! And I want to eat more Moonbeam cookies!"
Kirby curled up on a pillow. He looked at Gwen, but didn't say anything else.
"Oh, well," said Gwen, "I might as well find out what the Ogre's Dungeon is like." She pushed the button, and the elevator lurched again - this time, sideways.