'He did, Your Majesty,' Sophie said.

The maid gave a howl of anguish and clasped her hands over her face.

'Control yourself, Mary,' the Queen said sharply. Then to Sophie she said, 'You are not serious about the giant, are you?'

'Oh yes, Your Majesty. He's out there in the garden now.'

'Is he indeed,' the Queen said. The sheer absurdity of it al was helping her to regain her composure. 'So he's in the garden, is he?' she said, smiling a little.

'He is a good giant, Your Majesty,' Sophie said. 'You need not be frightened of him.'

'I'm delighted to hear it,' said the Queen, stil smiling.

'He is my best friend, Your Majesty.'

'How nice,' the Queen said.

'He's a lovely giant, Your Majesty.'

'I'm quite sure he is,' the Queen said. 'But why have you and this giant come to see me?'

'I think you have dreamed that part of it, too, Your Majesty,' Sophie said calmly.

That pul ed the Queen up short.

It took the smile right off her face.

She certainly had dreamed that part of it. She was remembering now how, at the end of her dream, it had said that a little girl and a big friendly giant would come and show her how to find the nine horrible man-eating giants.

But be careful, the Queen told herself. Keep very calm. Because this is surely not very far from the place where madness begins.

'You did dream that, didn't you, Your Majesty?' Sophie said.

The maid was out of it now. She just stood there goggling.

'Yes,' the Queen murmured. 'Yes, now you come to mention it, I did. But how do you know what I dreamed?'

'Oh, that's a long story, Your Majesty,' Sophie said. 'Would you like me to call the Big Friendly Giant?'

The Queen looked at the child. The child looked straight back at the Queen, her face open and quite serious. The Queen simply didn't know what to make of it. Was someone pul ing her leg, she wondered.

'Shal I cal him for you?' Sophie went on. 'You'll like him very much.'

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 wel ,' she said. 'You may cal your giant. No, wait a moment. Mary, pul 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 cal him now,' the Queen said.

Sophie turned her head towards the garden and cal ed 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 fal 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, stil 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 travel ed 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 tel Your Majester,' the BFG said.

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

'Shal 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.'

'Wil 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 Bal room.

That has the highest ceiling.' To the BFG, she said, 'I'm afraid you wil have to go through the door on your hands and knees. I shal 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 til you taste it!' Sophie said to the BFG. 'No more snozzcumbers from now on!'

The Royal Breakfast

There was a frantic scurry among the Palace servants when orders were received from the Queen that a twenty-four-foot giant must be seated with Her Majesty in the Great Ballroom within the next half-hour.

The butler, an imposing personage named Mr Tibbs, was in supreme command of all the palace servants and he did the best he could in the short time available. A man does not rise to become the Queen's utler unless he is gifted with extraordinary ingenuity, adaptability, versatility, dexterity, cunning, sophistication, sagacity, discretion and a host of other talents that neither you nor I possess. Mr Tibbs had them all. He was in the butler's pantry sipping an early morning glass of light ale when the order reached him. In a split second he had made the following calculations in his head: if a normal six-foot man requires a three-foot-high table to eat off, a twenty-four-foot giant will require a twelve-foot-high table.