The Queen took a deep breath. She was glad no one except her faithful old Mary was here to see what was going on. 'Very well,' she said. 'You may call your giant. No, wait a moment. Mary, pull yourself together and give me my dressing-gown and slippers.'

The maid did as she was told. The Queen got out of bed and put on a pale pink dressing-gown and slippers.

'You may call him now,' the Queen said.

Sophie turned her head towards the garden and called out, 'BFG! Her Majesty The Queen would like to see you!'

The Queen crossed over to the window and stood beside Sophie.

'Come down off that ledge,' she said. 'You're going to fall backwards any moment.'

Sophie jumped down into the room and stood beside the Queen at the open window. Mary, the maid, stood behind them. Her hands were now planted firmly on her hips and there was a look on her face which seemed to say, 'I want no part of this fiasco.'

'I don't see any giant,' the Queen said.

'Please wait,' Sophie said.

'Shall I take her away now, ma'am?' the maid said.

'Take her downstairs and give her some breakfast,' the Queen said.

Just then, there was a rustle in the bushes beside the lake.

Then out he came!

Twenty-four feet tall, wearing his black cloak with the grace of a nobleman, still carrying his long

trumpet in one hand, he strode magnificently across the Palace lawn towards the window.

The maid screamed.

The Queen gasped.

Sophie waved.

The BFG took his time. He was very dignified in his approach. When he was close to the window where the three of them were standing, he stopped and made a slow graceful bow. His head, after he had straightened up again, was almost exactly level with the watchers at the window.

'Your Majester,' he said. 'I is your humbug servant.' He bowed again.

Considering she was meeting a giant for the first time in her life, the Queen remained astonishingly self- composed. 'We are very pleased to meet you,' she said.

Down below, a gardener was coming across the lawn with a wheelbarrow. He caught sight of the BFG's legs over to his left. His gaze travelled slowly upwards along the entire height of the enormous body. He gripped the handles of the wheelbarrow. He swayed. He tottered. Then he keeled over on the grass in a dead faint. Nobody noticed him.

'Oh, Majester!' cried the BFG. 'Oh, Queen! Oh Monacher! Oh, Golden Sovereign! Oh, Ruler! Oh, Ruler of Straight Lines! Oh, Sultana! I is come here with my little friend Sophie ... to give you a ...' The BFG hesitated, searching for the word.

'To give me what?' the Queen said.

'A sistance,' the BFG said, beaming.

The Queen looked puzzled.

'He sometimes speaks a bit funny, Your Majesty,' Sophie said. 'He never went to school.'

'Then we must send him to school,' the Queen said. 'We have some very good schools in this country.'

'I has great secrets to tell Your Majester,' the BFG said.

'I should be delighted to hear them,' the Queen said. 'But not in my dressing-gown.'

'Shall you wish to get dressed, ma'am?' the maid said.

'Have either of you had breakfast?' the Queen said.

'Oh, could we?' Sophie cried. 'Oh, please! I haven't eaten a thing since yesterday!'

'I was about to have mine,' the Queen said, 'but Mary dropped it.'

The maid gulped.

'I imagine we have more food in the Palace,' the Queen said, speaking to the BFG. 'Perhaps you and your little friend would care to join me.'

'Will it be repulsant snozzcumbers, Majester?' the BFG asked.

'Will it be what?' the Queen said.

'Stinky snozzcumbers,' the BFG said.

'What is he talking about?' the Queen said. 'It sounds like a rude word to me.' She turned to the maid and said, 'Mary, ask them to serve breakfast for three in the ... I think it had better be in the Ballroom.

That has the highest ceiling.' To the BFG, she said, 'I'm afraid you will have to go through the door on your hands and knees. I shall send someone to show you the way.'

The BFG reached up and lifted Sophie out of the window. 'You and I is leaving Her Majester alone to get dressed,' he said.

'No, leave the little girl here with me,' the Queen said. 'We'll have to find something for her to put on.

She can't have breakfast in her nightie.'

The BFG returned Sophie to the bedroom.

'Can we have sausages, Your Majesty?' Sophie said. 'And bacon and fried eggs?'

'I think that might be managed,' the Queen answered, smiling.

'Just you wait till you taste it!' Sophie said to the BFG. 'No more snozzcumbers from now on!'

Journey to London

The great yel ow wasteland lay dim and milky in the moonlight as the Big Friendly Giant went gal oping across it.

Sophie, still wearing only her nightie, was reclining comfortably in a crevice of the BFG's right ear. She was actually in the outer rim of the ear, near the top, where the edge of the ear folds over, and this folding-over bit made a sort of roof for her and gave her wonderful protection against the rushing wind.

What is more, she was lying on skin that was soft and warm and almost velvety. Nobody, she told herself, had ever travel ed in greater comfort.

Sophie peeped over the rim of the ear and watched the desolate landscape of Giant Country go whizzing by. They were certainly moving fast. The BFG went bouncing off the ground as though there were rockets in his toes and each stride he took lifted him about a hundred feet into the air. But he had not yet gone into that whizzing top gear of his, when the ground became blurred by speed and the wind howled and his feet didn't seem to be touching anything but air. That would come later.

Sophie had not slept for a long time. She was very tired. She was also warm and comfortable. She dozed off.

She didn't know how long she slept, but when she woke up again and looked out over the edge of the ear, the landscape had changed completely. They were in a green country now, with mountains and forests. It was stil dark but the moon was shining as brightly as ever.

Suddenly and without slowing his pace, the BFG turned his head sharply to the left. For the first time during the entire journey he spoke a few words. 'Look quick-quick over there,' he said, pointing his long trumpet.

Sophie looked in the direction he was pointing. Through the murky darkness al she saw at first was a great cloud of dust about three hundred yards away.

'Those is the other giants al gal oping back home after their guzzle,' the BFG said.

Then Sophie saw them. In the light of the moon, she saw al nine of those monstrous half-naked brutes thundering across the landscape together. They were gal oping in a pack, their necks craned forward, their arms bent at the elbows, and worst of al , their stomachs bulging. The strides they took were

incredible. Their speed was unbelievable. Their feet pounded and thundered on the ground and left a great sheet of dust behind them. But in ten seconds they were gone.