'Every night unpleasant things are happening in Baghdad,' the Sultan said. 'We are chopping off people's heads like you are chopping parsley.'
'I've never chopped parsley in my life,' the Queen said. 'I want to know if anyone has disappeared recently in Baghdad?'
'Only my uncle, Caliph Haroun al Rashid,' the Sultan said. 'He disappeared from his bed three nights ago together with his wife and ten children.'
'There you is!' cried the BFG, whose wonderful ears enabled him to hear what the Sultan was saying to the Queen on the telephone. 'Fleshlumpeater did that one! He went off to Baghdad to bag dad and mum and all the little kiddles!'
The Queen replaced the receiver. 'That proves it,' she said, looking up at the BFG. 'Your story is apparently quite true. Summon the Head of the Army and the Head of the Air Force immediately!'
The Head of the Army and the Head of the Air Force stood at attention beside the Queen's breakfast table. Sophie was still in her seat and the BFG was still high up on his crazy perch.
It took the Queen only five minutes to explain the situation to the military men.
'I knew there was something like this going on, Your Majesty,' the Head of the Army said. 'For the last ten years we have been getting reports from nearly every country in the world about people disappearing mysteriously in the night. We had one only the other day from Panama ...'
'For the hatty taste!' cried the BFG.
'And one from Wellington, in New Zealand,' said the Head of the Army.
'For the booty flavour!' cried the BFG.
'What is he talking about?' said the Head of the Air Force.
'Work it out for yourself,' the Queen said. 'What time is it? Ten a.m. In eight hours those nine blood-thirsty brutes will be galloping off to gobble up another couple of dozen unfortunate wretches. They have to be stopped. We must act fast.'
'We'll bomb the blighters!' shouted the Head of the Air Force.
'We'll mow them down with machine-guns!' cried the Head of the Army.
'I do not approve of murder,' the Queen said.
'But they are murderers themselves!' cried the Head of the Army.
'That is no reason why we should follow their example,' the Queen said. 'Two wrongs don't make a right.'
'And two rights don't make a left!' cried the BFG.
'We must bring them back alive,' the Queen said.
'How?' the two military men said together. 'They are all fifty feet high. They'd knock us down like ninepins!'
'Wait!' cried the BFG. 'Hold your horseflies! Keep your skirts on! I think I has the answer to the maiden's hair!'
'Let him speak,' the Queen said.
'Every afternoon,' the BFG said, 'all these giants is in the Land of Noddy.'
'I can't understand a word this feller says,' the Head of the Army snapped. 'Why doesn't he speak clearly?'
'He means the Land of Nod,' Sophie said. 'It's pretty obvious.'
'Exunckly!' cried the BFG. 'Every afternoon all these nine giants is lying on the ground snoozling away in a very deep sleep. They is always resting like that before they is galloping off to guzzle another helping of human beans.'
'Go on,' they said. 'So what?'
'So what you soldiers has to do is to creep up to the giants while they is still in the Land of Noddy and tie their arms and legs with mighty ropes and whunking chains.'
'Brilliant,' the Queen said.
'That's all very well,' said the Head of the Army. 'But how do we get the brutes back here? We can't load fifty-foot giants on to trucks! Shoot 'em on the spot, that's what I say!'
The BFG looked down from his lofty perch and said, this time to the Head of the Air Force, 'You is having bellypoppers, is you not?'
'Is he being rude?' the Head of the Air Force said.
'He means helicopters,' Sophie told him.
'Then why doesn't he say so? Of course we have helicopters.'
'Whoppsy big bellypoppers?' asked the BFG.
'Very big ones,' the Head of the Air Force said proudly. 'But no helicopter is big enough to get a giant like that inside it.'
'You do not put him inside,' the BFG said. 'You sling him underneath the belly of your bellypopper and carry him like a porteedo.'
'Like a what?' said the Head of the Air Force.
'Like a torpedo,' Sophie said.
'Could you do that, Air Marshal?' the Queen asked.
'Well, I suppose we could,' the Head of the Air Force admitted grudgingly.
'Then get cracking!' the Queen said, 'You'll need nine helicopters, one for each Giant.'
'Where is this place?' the Air Force man said to the BFG. 'I presume you can pinpoint it on the map?'
'Pinpoint?' said the BFG. 'Map? I is never hearing these words before. Is this Air Force bean talking slushbungle?'
The Air Marshal's face turned the colour of a ripe plum. He was not used to being told he was talking slushbungle. The Queen, with her usual admirable tact and good sense, came to the rescue. 'BFG,' she said, 'can you tell us more or less where this Giant Country is?'
'No, Majester,' the BFG said. 'Not on my nelly.'
'Then we're jiggered!' cried the Army General.
'This is ridiculous!' cried the Air Marshal.
'You must not be giving up so easy,' the BFG said calmly. 'The first titchy bobsticle you meet and you begin shouting you is biffsquiggled.'
The Army General was no more used to being insulted than the Air Marshal. His face began to swell with fury and his cheeks blew out until they looked like two huge ripe tomatoes. 'Your Majesty!' he cried. 'We are dealing with a lunatic! I want nothing more to do with this ridiculous operation!'
The Queen, who was used to the tantrums of her senior officials, ignored him completely. 'BFG,' she said, 'Would you please tell these rather dim-witted characters exactly what to do.'
'A pleasure, Majester,' said the BFG. 'Now listen to me carefully, you two bootbogglers.'
The military men began to twitch, but they stayed put.
'I is not having the foggiest idea where Giant Country is in the world,' the BFG said, 'but I is always able to gallop there. I is galloping forthwards and backwards from Giant Country every night to blow my dreams into little chiddler's bedrooms. I is knowing the way very well. So all you is having to do is this. Put your nine big bellyhoppers up in the air and let them follow me as I is galloping along.'
'How long will the journey take?' the Queen asked.
'If we is leaving now,' the BFG said, 'we will be arriving just as the giants is having their afternoon snozzle.'
'Splendid,' said the Queen. Then turning to the two military men, she said, 'Prepare to leave immediately.'
The Head of the Army, who was feeling pretty miffed by the whole business, said, 'That's all very well, Your Majesty, but what are we going to do with the blighters once we've got them back?'
'Don't you worry about that,' the Queen told him. 'We'll be ready for them. Hurry up, now! Off you go!'