'If it pleases Your Majesty,' Sophie said, 'I should like to ride with the BFG, to keep him company.'

'Where will you sit?' asked the Queen.

'In his ear,' Sophie said. 'Show them, BFG.'

The BFG got down from his high chair. He picked Sophie up in his fingers. He swivelled his huge right ear until it was parallel with the ground, then he placed Sophie gently inside it.

The Heads of the Army and the Air Force stood there goggling. The Queen smiled. 'You really are rather a wonderful giant,' she said.

'Majester,' the BFG said, 'I is wishing to ask a very special thing from you.'

'What is it?' the Queen said.

'Could I please bring back here in the bellypoppers all my collection of dreams? They is taking me years and years to collect and I is not wanting to lose them.'

'Why of course,' the Queen said. 'I wish you a safe journey.'

The BFG had made thousands of journeys to and from Giant Country over the years, but he had never in his life made one quite like this, with nine huge helicopters roaring along just over his head. He had never before travelled in broad daylight either. He hadn't dared to. But this was different. Now he was doing it for the Queen of England herself and he was frightened of nobody.

As he galloped across the British Isles with the helicopters thundering above him, people stood and gaped and wondered what on earth was going on. They had never seen the likes of it before. And they never would again.

Every now and then, the pilots of the helicopters would catch a glimpse of a small girl wearing glasses crouching in the giant's right ear and waving to them. They always waved back. The pilots marvelled at the giant's speed and at the way he leapt across wide rivers and over huge houses.

But they hadn't seen anything yet.

'Be careful to hang on tight!' the BFG said. 'We is going fast as a fizzlecrump!' The BFG changed into his famous top gear and all at once he began to fly forward as though there were springs in his legs and rockets in his toes. He went skimming over the earth like some magical hop-skip-and-jumper with his feet hardly ever touching the ground. As usual, Sophie had to crouch low in the crevice of his ear to save herself from being swept clean away.

The nine pilots in their helicopters suddenly realized they were being left behind. The giant was streaking ahead. They opened their throttles to full speed, and even then they were only just able to keep up.

In the leading machine, the Head of the Air Force was sitting beside the pilot. He had a world atlas on his knees and he kept staring first at the atlas, then at the ground below, trying to figure out where they were going. Frantically he turned the pages of the atlas. 'Where the devil are we going?' he cried.

'I haven't the foggiest idea,' the pilot answered. 'The Queen's orders were to follow the giant and that's exactly what I'm doing.'

The pilot was a young Air Force officer with a bushy moustache. He was very proud of his moustache. He was also quite fearless and he loved adventure. He thought this was a super adventure. 'It's fun going to new places,' he said.

'New places!' shouted the Head of the Air Force. 'What the blazes d'you mean new places?'

'This place we're flying over now isn't in the atlas, is it?' the pilot said, grinning.

'You're darn right it isn't in the atlas!' cried the Head of the Air Force. 'We've flown clear off the last


'I expect that old giant knows where he's going,' the young pilot said.

'He's leading us to disaster!' cried the Head of the Air Force. He was shaking with fear. In the seat behind

him sat the Head of the Army who was even more terrified.

'You don't mean to tell me we've gone right out of the atlas?' he cried, leaning forward to look.

'That's exactly what I am telling you!' cried the Air Force man. 'Look for yourself. Here's the very last

map in the whole flaming atlas! We went off that over an hour ago!' He turned the page. As in all  atlases, there were two completely blank pages at the very end. 'So now we must be somewhere here,'  he said, putting a finger on one of the blank pages.

'Where's here?' cried the Head of the Army.

The young pilot was still grinning broadly. He said to them, 'That's why they always put two blank pages

at the back of the atlas. They're for new countries. You're meant to fill them in yourself.'

The Head of the Air Force glanced down at the ground below. 'Just look at this godforsaken desert!' he

cried. 'All the trees are dead and all the rocks are blue!'

'The giant has stopped,' the young pilot said. 'He's waving us down.'

The pilots throttled back the engines and all nine helicopters landed safely on the great yellow

wasteland. Then each of them lowered a ramp from its belly. Nine jeeps, one from each helicopter, were  driven down the ramps. Each jeep contained six soldiers and a vast quantity of thick rope and heavy  chains.

'I don't see any giants,' the Head of the Army said.

'The giants is all just out of sight over there,' the BFG told him. 'But if you is taking these sloshbuckling

noisy bellypoppers any closer, all the giants is waking up at once and then pop goes the weasel.'

'So you want us to proceed by jeep?' the Head of the Army said.

'Yes,' the BFG said. 'But you must all be very very hushy quiet. No roaring of motors. No shouting. No

mucking about. No piggery-jokery.'

The BFG, with Sophie still in his ear, trotted forward and the jeeps followed close behind.

Suddenly the most dreadful rumbling noise was heard by everyone. The Head of the Army went pea-

green in the face. 'Those are guns!' he cried. 'There is a battle raging somewhere up ahead of us! Turn  back, the lot of you! Let's get out of here!'

'Pigspiffle!' the BFG said. 'Those noises is not guns.'

'Of course they're guns!' shouted the Head of the Army. 'I am a military man and I know a gun when I

hear one! Turn back!'

'Those is just the giants snortling in their sleep,' the BFG said. 'I is a giant myself and I know a giant's

snortle when I is hearing one.'

'Are you quite sure?' the Army man said anxiously.

'Positive,' the BFG said.

'Proceed cautiously,' the Army man ordered.

They all moved on.

Then they saw them!

Even at a distance, they were enough to scare the daylights out of the soldiers. But when they got close

and saw what the giants really looked like, they began to sweat with fear. Nine fearsome, ugly, half- naked, fifty-feet-long brutes lay sprawled over the ground in various grotesque attitudes of sleep, and  the sound of their snoring was indeed like gunfire in a battle.

The BFG raised a hand. The jeeps all stopped. The soldiers got out.

'What happens if one of them wakes up?' whispered the Head of the Army, his knees knocking together from fear.