And if a six foot man requires a chair with a two-foot-high seat, a twenty-four-foot giant will require a chair with an eight-foot-high seat.

Everything, Mr Tibbs told himself, must be multiplied by four. Two breakfast eggs must become eight. Four rashers of bacon must become sixteen. Three pieces of toast must become twelve, and so on. These calculations about food were immediately passed on to Monsieur Papillion, the royal chef.

Mr Tibbs skimmed into the ballroom (butlers don't walk, they skim over the ground) followed by a whole army of footmen. The footmen all wore knee-breeches and every one of them displayed beautifully rounded calves and ankles. There is no way you can become a royal footman unless you have a well-turned ankle. It is the first thing they look at when you are interviewed.

'Push the grand piano into the centre of the room,' Mr Tibbs whispered. Butlers never raise their voices above the softest whisper.

Four footmen moved the piano.

'Now fetch a large chest-of-drawers and put it on top of the piano,' Mr Tibbs whispered.

Three other footmen fetched a very fine Chippendale mahogany chest-of-drawers and placed it on top of the piano.

'That will be his chair,' Mr Tibbs whispered. 'It is exactly eight feet off the ground. Now we shall make a table upon which this gentleman may eat his breakfast in comfort. Fetch me four very tall grandfather clocks. There are plenty of them around the Palace. Let each clock be twelve feet high.'

Sixteen footmen spread out around the Palace to find the clocks. They were not easy to carry and required four footmen to each one.

'Place the four clocks in a rectangle eight feet by four alongside the grand piano,' Mr Tibbs whispered.

The footmen did so.


'Now fetch me the young Prince's ping-pong table,' Mr Tibbs whispered.

The ping-pong table was carried in.

'Unscrew its legs and take them away,' Mr Tibbs whispered. This was done.

'Now place the ping-pong table on top of the four grandfather clocks,' Mr Tibbs whispered. To manage this, the footmen had to stand on stepladders. Mr Tibbs stood back to survey the new furniture. 'None of it is in the classic style,' he whispered, 'but it will have to do.' He gave orders that a damask table-cloth should be draped over the ping-pong table, and in the end it looked really quite elegant after all.

At this point, Mr Tibbs was seen to hesitate. The footmen all stared at him, aghast. Butlers never hesitate, not even when they are faced with the most impossible problems. It is their job to be totally decisive at all times.

'Knives and forks and spoons,' Mr Tibbs was heard to mutter. 'Our cutlery will be like little pins in his hands.'

But Mr Tibbs didn't hesitate for long. 'Tell the head gardener,' he whispered, 'that I require immediately a brand new unused garden fork and also a spade. And for a knife we shall use the great sword hanging on the wall in the morning-room. But clean the sword well first. It was last used to cut off the head of King Charles the First and there may still be a little dried blood on the blade.'

When all this had been accomplished, Mr Tibbs stood near the centre of the Ballroom casting his expert butler's eye over the scene. Had he forgotten anything? He certainly had. What about a coffee cup for the large gentleman?

'Fetch me,' he whispered, 'the biggest jug you can find in the kitchen.'

A splendid one gallon porcelain water-jug was brought in and placed on the giant's table beside the garden fork and the garden spade and the great sword.

So much for the giant.

Mr Tibbs then had the footmen move a small delicate table and two chairs alongside the giant's table. This was for the Queen and for Sophie. The fact that the giant's table and chair towered far above the smaller table simply could not be helped.

All these arrangements were only just completed when the Queen, now fully dressed in a trim skirt and cashmere cardigan, entered the Ballroom holding Sophie by the hand. A pretty blue dress that had once belonged to one of the Princesses had been found for Sophie, and to make her look prettier still, the Queen had picked up a superb sapphire brooch from her dressing-table and had pinned it on the left side of Sophie's chest. The Big Friendly Giant followed behind them, but he had an awful job getting through the door. He had to squeeze himself through on his hands and knees, with two footmen pushing him from behind and two pulling from the front. But he got through in the end. He had removed his black cloak and got rid of his trumpet, and was now wearing his ordinary simple clothes.

As he walked across the Ballroom he had to stoop quite a lot to avoid hitting the ceiling. Because of this he failed to notice an enormous crystal chandelier. Crash went his head right into the chandelier. A shower of glass fell upon the poor BFG. 'Gunghummers and bogswinkles!' he cried. 'What was that?'

'It was Louis the Fifteenth,' the Queen said, looking slightly put out.

'He's never been in a house before,' Sophie said.

Mr Tibbs scowled. He directed four footmen to clear up the mess, then, with a disdainful little wave of the hand, he indicated to the giant that he should seat himself on top of the chest-of-drawers on top of the grand piano.

'What a phizz-whizzing flushbunking seat!' cried the BFG. 'I is going to be bug as a snug in a rug up here.'

'Does he always speak like that?' the Queen asked.

'Quite often,' Sophie said. 'He gets tangled up with his words.'

The BFG sat down on the chest-of-drawers-piano and gazed in wonder around the Great Ballroom. 'By gum-drops!' he cried. 'What a spliffling whoppsy room we is in! It is so gigantuous I is needing bicirculers and telescoops to see what is going on at the other end!'

Footmen arrived carrying silver trays with fried eggs, bacon, sausages and fried potatoes.

At this point, Mr Tibbs suddenly realized that in order to serve the BFG at his twelve-foot-high-grandfather-clock table, he would have to climb to the top of one of the tall step-ladders. What's more, he must do it balancing a huge warm plate on the palm of one hand and holding a gigantic silver coffee-pot in the other. A normal man would have flinched at the thought of it. But good butlers never flinch.

Up he went, up and up and up, while the Queen and Sophie watched him with great interest. It is possible they were both secretly hoping he would lose his balance and go crashing to the floor. But good butlers never crash.

At the top of the ladder, Mr Tibbs, balancing like an acrobat, poured the BFG's coffee and placed the enormous plate before him. On the plate there were eight eggs, twelve sausages, sixteen rashers of bacon and a heap of fried potatoes.

'What is this please, Your Majester?' the BFG asked, peering down at the Queen.

'He has never eaten anything except snozzcumbers before in his life,' Sophie explained. 'They taste revolting.'