'Was you happy there?' the BFG asked.

'I hated it,' Sophie said. 'The woman who ran it was called Mrs Clonkers and if she caught you breaking any of the rules, like getting out of bed at night or not folding up your clothes, you got punished.'

'How is you getting punished?'

'She locked us in the dark cellar for a day and a night without anything to eat or drink.'

'The rotten old rotrasper!' cried the BFG.

'It was horrid,' Sophie said. 'We used to dread it. There were rats down there. We could hear them creeping about.'

'The filthy old fizzwiggler!' shouted the BFG. 'That is the horridest thing I is hearing for years! You is making me sadder than ever!' All at once, a huge tear that would have filled a bucket rolled down one of the BFG's cheeks and fell with a splash on the floor. It made quite a puddle.

Sophie watched with astonishment. What a strange and moody creature this is, she thought. One moment he is telling me my head is full of squashed flies and the next moment his heart is melting for me because Mrs Clonkers locks us in the cellar.

'The thing that worries me,' Sophie said, 'is having to stay in this dreadful place for the rest of my life.

The orphanage was pretty awful, but I wouldn't have been there for ever, would I?'

'All is my fault,' the BFG said. 'I is the one who kidsnatched you.' Yet another enormous tear welled from his eye and splashed on to the floor.

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'Now I come to think of it, I won't actually be here all that long,' Sophie said.

'I is afraid you will,' the BFG said.

'No, I won't,' Sophie said. 'Those brutes out there are bound to catch me sooner or later and have me for tea.'

'I is never letting that happen,' the BFG said.

For a few moments the cave was silent. Then Sophie said, 'May I ask you a question?'

The BFG wiped the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand and gave Sophie a long thoughtful stare. 'Shoot away,' he said.

'Would you please tell me what you were doing in our village last night? Why were you poking that long trumpet thing into the Goochey children's bedroom and then blowing through it?'

'Ah-ha!' cried the BFG, sitting up suddenly in his chair. 'Now we is getting nosier than a parker!'

'And the suitcase you were carrying,' Sophie said. 'What on earth was that all about?'

The BFG stared suspiciously at the small girl sitting cross-legged on the table.

'You is asking me to tell you whoppsy big secrets,' he said. 'Secrets that nobody is ever hearing before.'

'I won't tell a soul,' Sophie said. 'I swear it. How could I anyway? I am stuck here for the rest of my life.'

'You could be telling the other giants.'

'No, I couldn't,' Sophie said. 'You told me they would eat me up the moment they saw me.'

'And so they would,' said the BFG. 'You is a human bean and human beans is like strawbunkles and cream to those giants.'

'If they are going to eat me the moment they see me, then I wouldn't have time to tell them anything, would I?' Sophie said.

'You wouldn't,' said the BFG.

'Then why did you say I might?'

'Because I is brimful of buzzburgers,' the BFG said. 'If you listen to everything I am saying you will be getting earache.'

'Please tell me what you were doing in our village,' Sophie said. 'I promise you can trust me.'

'Would you teach me how to make an elefunt?' the BFG asked.

'What do you mean?' Sophie said.

'I would dearly love to have an elefunt to ride on,' the BFG said dreamily. 'I would so much love to have a jumbly big elefunt and go riding through green forests picking peachy fruits off the trees all day long. This is a sizzling-hot muckfrumping country we is living in. Nothing grows in it except snozzcumbers. I would love to go somewhere else and pick peachy fruits in the early morning from the back of an elefunt.'

Sophie was quite moved by this curious statement.

'Perhaps one day we will get you an elephant,' she said. 'And peachy fruits as well. Now tell me what you were doing in our village.'

'If you is really wanting to know what I am doing in your village,' the BFG said, 'I is blowing a dream into the bedroom of those children.'

'Blowing a dream?' Sophie said. 'What do you mean?'

'I is a dream-blowing giant,' the BFG said. 'When all the other giants is galloping off every what way and which to swollop human beans, I is scuddling away to other places to blow dreams into the bedrooms of sleeping children. Nice dreams. Lovely golden dreams. Dreams that is giving the dreamers a happy time.'

'Now hang on a minute,' Sophie said. 'Where do you get these dreams?'

'I collect them,' the BFG said, waving an arm towards all the rows and rows of bottles on the shelves. 'I has billions of them.'

'You can't collect a dream,' Sophie said. 'A dream isn't something you can catch hold of.'

'You is never going to understand about it,' the BFG said. 'That is why I is not wishing to tell you.'

'Oh, please tell me!' Sophie said. 'I will understand! Go on! Tell me how you collect dreams! Tell me everything!'

The BFG settled himself comfortably in his chair and crossed his legs. 'Dreams,' he said, 'is very mysterious things. They is floating around in the air like little wispy-misty bubbles. And all the time they is searching for sleeping people.'

'Can you see them?' Sophie asked.

'Never at first.'

'Then how do you catch them if you can't see them?' Sophie asked.

'Ah-ha,' said the BFG. 'Now we is getting on to the dark and dusky secrets.'

'I won't tell a soul.'

'I is trusting you,' the BFG said. He closed his eyes and sat quite still for a moment, while Sophie waited.

'A dream,' he said, 'as it goes whiffling through the night air, is making a tiny little buzzing-humming noise. But this little buzzy-hum is so silvery soft, it is impossible for a human bean to be hearing it.'

'Can you hear it?' Sophie asked.

The BFG pointed up at his enormous truck-wheel ears which he now began to move in and out. He performed this exercise proudly, with a little proud smile on his face. 'Is you seeing these?' he asked.

'How could I miss them?' Sophie said.

'They maybe is looking a bit propsposterous to you,' the BFG said, 'but you must believe me when I say they is very extra-usual ears indeed. They is not to be coughed at.'

'I'm quite sure they're not,' Sophie said.

'They is allowing me to hear absolutely every single twiddly little thing.'

'You mean you can hear things I can't hear?' Sophie said.

'You is deaf as a dumpling compared with me!' cried the BFG. 'You is hearing only thumping loud noises with those little earwigs of yours. But I am hearing all the secret whisperings of the world!'

'Such as what?' Sophie asked.

'In your country,' he said, 'I is hearing the footsteps of a ladybird as she goes walking across a leaf.'

'Honestly?' Sophie said, beginning to be impressed.