would glide noiselessly from one dark place to another, always moving, always gliding forward through the streets of London, his black cloak blending with the shadows of the night. It is quite possible that one or two late-night wanderers might have thought they saw a tall black shadow skimming swiftly down a murky sidestreet, but even if they had, they would never have believed their own eyes. They would have dismissed it as an illusion and blamed themselves for seeing things that weren't there.

Sophie and the BFG came at last to a large place full of trees. There was a road running through it, and a lake. There were no people in this place and the BFG stopped for the first time since they had set out from his cave many hours before.

'What's the matter?' Sophie whispered in her under-the-breath voice.

'I is in a bit of a puddle,' he said.

'You're doing marvellously,' Sophie whispered.

'No, I isn't,' he said. 'I is now completely boggled. I is lost.'

'But why?'

'Because we is meant to be in the middle of London and suddenly we is in green pastures.'

'Don't be silly,' Sophie whispered. 'This is the middle of London. It's called Hyde Park. I know exactly where we are.'

'You is joking.'

'I'm not. I swear I'm not. We're almost there.'

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'You mean we is nearly at the Queen's Palace?' cried the BFG.

'It's just across the road,' Sophie whispered. 'This is where I take over.'

'Which way?' the BFG asked.

'Straight ahead.'

The BFG trotted forward through the deserted park.

'Now stop.'

The BFG stopped.

'You see that huge roundabout ahead of us just outside the Park?' Sophie whispered.

'I see it.'

'That is Hyde Park Corner.'

Even now, when it was still an hour before dawn, there was quite a lot of traffic moving around Hyde Park Corner.

Then Sophie whispered, 'In the middle of the roundabout there is an enormous stone arch with a statue of a horse and rider on top of it. Can you see that?'

The BFG peered through the trees. 'I is seeing it,' he said.

'Do you think that if you took a very fast run at it, you could jump clear over Hyde Park Corner, over the arch and over the horse and rider and land on the pavement the other side?'

'Easy,' the BFG said.

'You're sure? You're absolutely sure?'

'I promise,' the BFG said.

'Whatever you do, you mustn't land in the middle of Hyde Park Corner.'

'Don't get so flussed,' the BFG said. 'To me that is a snitchy little jump. There's not a thingalingaling to it.'

'Then go!' Sophie whispered.

The BFG broke into a full gallop. He went scorching across the Park and just before he reached the railings that divided it from the street, he took off. It was a gigantic leap. He flew high over Hyde Park Corner and landed as softly as a cat on the pavement the other side.

'Well done!' Sophie whispered. 'Now quick! Over that wall!'

Directly in front of them, bordering the pavement, there was a brick wall with fearsome-looking spikes all along the top of it. A swift crouch, a little leap and the BFG was over it.

'We're there!' Sophie whispered excitedly. 'We're in the Queen's back garden!'

The Palace

'By gumdrops!' whispered the Big Friendly Giant. 'Is this really it?'

'There's the Palace,' Sophie whispered back.

Not more than a hundred yards away, through the tall trees in the garden, across the mown lawns and the tidy flower-beds, the massive shape of the Palace itself loomed through the darkness. It was made of whitish stone. The sheer size of it staggered the BFG.

'But this place is having a hundred bedrooms at least!' he said.

'Easily, I should think,' Sophie whispered.

'Then I is boggled,' the BFG said. 'How is I possibly finding the one where the Queen is sleeping?'

'Let's go a bit closer and have a look,' Sophie whispered.

The BFG glided forward among the trees. Suddenly he stopped dead. The great ear in which Sophie was sitting began to swivel round. 'Hey!' Sophie whispered. 'You're going to tip me out!'

'Ssshh!' the BFG whispered back. 'I is hearing something!' He stopped behind a clump of bushes. He waited. The ear was still swinging this way and that. Sophie had to hang on tight to the side of it to save herself from tumbling out. The BFG pointed through a gap in the bushes, and there, not more than fifty yards away, she saw a man padding softly across the lawn. He had a guard-dog with him on a leash.

The BFG stayed as still as a stone. So did Sophie. The man and the dog walked on and disappeared into the darkness.

'You was telling me they has no soldiers in the back garden,' the BFG whispered.

'He wasn't a soldier,' Sophie whispered. 'He was some sort of a watchman. We'll have to be careful.'

'I is not too worried,' the BFG said. 'These wacksey big ears of mine is picking up even the noise of a man breathing the other side of this garden.'

'How much longer before it begins to get light?' Sophie whispered.

'Very short,' the BFG said. 'We must go pell-mell for leather now!'

He glided forward through the vast garden, and once again Sophie noticed how he seemed to melt into the shadows wherever he went. His feet made no sound at all, even when he was walking on gravel.

Suddenly, they were right up close against the back wall of the great Palace. The BFG's head was level with the upper windows one flight up, and Sophie, sitting in his ear, had the same view. In all the windows on that floor the curtains seemed to be drawn. There were no lights showing anywhere. In the distance they could hear the muted sound of traffic going round Hyde Park Corner.

The BFG stopped and put his other ear, the one Sophie wasn't sitting in, close to the first window.

'No,' he whispered.

'What are you listening for?' Sophie whispered back.

'For breathing,' the BFG whispered. 'I is able to tell if it is a man human bean or a lady by the breathing-voice. We has a man in there. Snortling a little bit, too.'

He glided on, flattening his tall, thin, black-cloaked body against the side of the building. He came to the next window. He listened.

'No,' he whispered.

He moved on.

'This room is empty,' he whispered.

He listened in at several more windows, but at each one he shook his head and moved on.

When he came to the window in the very centre of the Palace, he listened but did not move on. 'Ho-ho,' he whispered. 'We has a lady sleeping in there.'

Sophie felt a little quiver go running down her spine. 'But who?' she whispered back.

The BFG put a finger to his lips for silence. He reached up through the open window and parted the curtains ever so slightly.

The orange glow from the night-sky over London crept into the room and cast a glimmer of light on to its walls. It was a large room. A lovely room. A rich carpet. Gilded chairs. A dressing-table. A bed. And on the pillow of the bed lay the head of a sleeping woman.