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

'Very short,' the BFG said. 'We must go pel -mel 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 al , even when he was walking on gravel.

Suddenly, they were right up close against the back wal 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 al 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 tel 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 tal , thin, black-cloaked body against the side of the building. He came to the next window. He listened.

'No,' he whispered.

He moved on.

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'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 pil ow of the bed lay the head of a sleeping woman.

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 careful y, 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 careful y, like a thermometer.

'Is you al 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 wil 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 cal 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.

The Queen

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 actual y sitting high above the ground on the window-sil of the Queen of England's bedroom, with the Queen herself asleep in there behind the curtain not more than five yards away.

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 al the Queen, would believe a word of her story.

It seemed possible that nobody had ever woken up to find a smal child sitting behind the curtains on his or her window-sill.

The Queen was bound to get a shock.

Who wouldn't?

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 bel y of the Palace.

Then, al 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.