Sophie suddenly found herself looking at a face she had seen on stamps and coins and in the newspapers all her life.
For a few seconds she was speechless.
'Is that her?' the BFG whispered.
'Yes,' Sophie whispered back.
The BFG wasted no time. First, and very carefully, he started to raise the lower half of the large window.
The BFG was an expert on windows. He had opened thousands of them over the years to blow his dreams into children's bedrooms. Some windows got stuck. Some were wobbly. Some creaked. He was pleased to find that the Queen's window slid upward like silk. He pushed up the lower half as far as it
would go so as to leave a place on the sill for Sophie to sit.
Next, he closed the crack in the curtains.
Then, with finger and thumb, he lifted Sophie out of his ear and placed her on the window-ledge with her legs dangling just inside the room, but behind the curtains.
'Now don't you go tip-toppling backwards,' the BFG whispered. 'You must always be holding on tight with both hands to the inside of the window-sill.'
Sophie did as he said.
It was summertime in London and the night was not cold, but don't forget that Sophie was wearing only her thin nightie. She would have given anything for a dressing-gown, not just to keep her warm but to hide the whiteness of her nightie from watchful eyes in the garden below.
The BFG was taking the glass jar from the pocket of his cloak. He unscrewed the lid. Now, very cautiously, he poured the precious dream into the wide end of his trumpet. He steered the trumpet through the curtains, far into the room, aiming it at the place where he knew the bed to be. He took a
deep breath. He puffed out his cheeks and pooff, he blew.
Now he was withdrawing the trumpet, sliding it out very very carefully, like a thermometer.
'Is you all right sitting there?' he whispered.
'Yes,' Sophie murmured. She was quite terrified, but determined not to show it. She looked down over her shoulder. The ground seemed miles away. It was a nasty drop.
'How long will the dream take to work?' Sophie whispered.
'Some takes an hour,' the BFG whispered back. 'Some is quicker. Some is slower still. But it is sure to find her in the end.'
Sophie said nothing.
'I is going off to wait in the garden,' the BFG whispered. 'When you is wanting me, just call out my name and I is coming very quick.'
'Will you hear me?' Sophie whispered.
'You is forgetting these,' the BFG whispered, smiling and pointing to his great ears.
'Goodbye,' Sophie whispered.
Suddenly, unexpectedly, the BFG leaned forward and kissed her gently on the cheek. Sophie felt like crying.
When she turned to look at him, he was already gone. He had simply melted away into the dark garden.
Dawn came at last, and the rim of a lemon-coloured sun rose up behind the roof-tops somewhere behind Victoria Station.
A while later, Sophie felt a little of its warmth on her back and was grateful.
In the distance, she heard a church clock striking. She counted the strikes. There were seven.
She found it almost impossible to believe that she, Sophie, a little orphan of no real importance in the world, was at this moment actually sitting high above the ground on the window-sill of the Queen of England's bedroom, with the Queen herself asleep in there behind the curtain not more than five yards
The very idea of it was absurd.
No one had ever done such a thing before.
It was a terrifying thing to be doing.
What would happen if the dream didn't work?
No one, least of all the Queen, would believe a word of her story.
It seemed possible that nobody had ever woken up to find a small child sitting behind the curtains on his or her window-sill.
The Queen was bound to get a shock.
With all the patience of a small girl who has something important to wait for, Sophie sat motionless on the window-sill.
How much longer? she wondered.
What time do Queens wake up?
Faint stirrings and distant sounds came to her from deep inside the belly of the Palace.
Then, all at once, beyond the curtains, she heard the voice of the sleeper in the bedroom. It was a slightly blurred sleep-talker's voice. 'Oh no!' it cried out. 'No! Don't — Someone stop them! — Don't let them do it! — I can't bear it! — Oh please stop them! — It's horrible! — Oh, it's ghastly! — No! No! No! ...'
She is having the dream, Sophie told herself. It must be really horrid. I feel so sorry for her. But it has to be done.
After that, there were a few moans. Then there was a long silence.
Sophie waited. She looked over her shoulder. She was terrified that she would see the man with the dog down in the garden staring up at her. But the garden was deserted. A pale summer mist hung over it like smoke. It was an enormous garden, very beautiful, with a large funny-shaped lake at the far end. There was an island in the lake and there were ducks swimming on the water.
Inside the room, beyond the curtains, Sophie suddenly heard what was obviously a knock on the door.
She heard the doorknob being turned. She heard someone entering the room.
'Good morning, Your Majesty,' a woman was saying. It was the voice of an oldish person.
There was a pause and then a slight rattle of china and silver.
'Will you have your tray on the bed, ma'am, or on the table?'
'Oh Mary! Something awful has just happened!' This was a voice Sophie had heard many times on radio and television, especially on Christmas Day. It was a very well-known voice.
'Whatever is it, ma'am?'
'I've just had the most frightful dream! It was a nightmare! It was awful!'
'Oh, I am sorry, ma'am. But don't be distressed. You're awake now and it will go away. It was only a dream, ma'am.'
'Do you know what I dreamt, Mary? I dreamt that girls and boys were being snatched out of their beds at boarding-school and were being eaten by the most ghastly giants! The giants were putting their arms in through the dormitory windows and plucking the children out with their fingers! One lot from a girls' school and another from a boys' school! It was all so ... so vivid, Mary! It was so real!'
There was a silence. Sophie waited. She was quivering with excitement. But why the silence? Why didn't the other one, the maid, why didn't she say something?
'What on earth's the matter, Mary?' the famous voice was saying.
There was another silence.
'Mary! You've gone as white as a sheet! Are you feeling ill?'
There was suddenly a crash and a clatter of crockery which could only have meant that the tray the maid was carrying had fallen out of her hands.
'Mary!' the famous voice was saying rather sharply. 'I think you'd better sit down at once! You look as though you're going to faint! You really mustn't take it so hard just because I've had an awful dream.'