Read The BFG Online

Authors: Roald Dahl

Tags: #children

The BFG (8 page)

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‘I is thinking,’ said the Fleshlumpeater, ‘that you is catching human beans and keeping them as pets!’
‘Right you is!’ cried the Bloodbottler. ‘Just now I is hearing him chittering away to one of them in his cave!’
‘You is welcome to go and search my cave from frack to bunt,’ the BFG answered. ‘You can go looking into every crook and nanny. There is no human beans or stringy beans or runner beans or jelly beans or any other beans in here.’
Sophie crouched still as a mouse inside the BFG’s pocket. She hardly dared breathe. She was terrified she might sneeze. The slightest sound or movement would give her away. Through the tiny peep-hole she watched the giants clustering around the poor BFG. How revolting they were! All of them had piggy little eyes and enormous mouths with thick sausage lips. When the Fleshlumpeater was speaking, she got a glimpse of his tongue. It was jet black, like a slab of black steak. Every one of them was more than twice as tall as the BFG.
Suddenly, the Fleshlumpeater shot out two enormous hands and grabbed the BFG around the waist. He tossed him high in the air and shouted, ‘Catch him, Manhugger!’
The Manhugger caught him. The other giants spread out quickly in a large circle, each giant about twenty yards from his neighbour, preparing for the game they were going to play. Now the Manhugger threw the BFG high and far, shouting ‘Catch him, Bonecruncher!’
The Bonecruncher ran forward and caught the tumbling BFG and immediately swung him up again. ‘Catch him, Childchewer!’ he shouted.
And so it went on. The giants were playing ball with the BFG, vying with each other to see who could throw him the highest. Sophie dug her nails into the sides of the pocket, trying to prevent herself from tumbling out when she was upside down. She felt as though she were in a barrel going over the Niagara Falls. And all the time there was the fearful danger that one of the giants would fail to catch the BFG and he would go crashing to the ground.


‘Catch him, Meatdripper!’…
‘Catch him, Gizzardgulper!’…
‘Catch him, Maidmasher!’…
‘Catch him, Bloodbottler!’…
‘Catch him!… Catch him!… Catch him!…’
In the end, they got bored with this game. They dumped the poor BFG on the ground. He was dazed and shattered. They gave him a few kicks and shouted, ‘Run, you little runt! Let us be seeing how fast you is galloping!’ The BFG ran. What else could he do? The giants picked up rocks and hurled them after him. He managed to dodge them. ‘Ruddy little runt!’ they shouted. ‘Troggy little twit! Shrivelly little shrimp! Mucky little midget! Squaggy little squib! Grobby little grub!’
At last the BFG got clear of them all and in another couple of minutes the pack of giants was out of sight over the horizon. Sophie popped her head up from the pocket. ‘I didn’t like that,’ she said.
‘Phew!’ said the BFG. ‘Phew and far between! They was in a nasty crotching mood today, was they not! I is sorry you was having such a whirlgig time.’
‘No worse than you,’ Sophie said. ‘Would they ever
hurt you?’
‘I isn’t ever trusting them,’ the BFG said.
‘How do they actually catch the humans they eat?’ Sophie asked.
‘They is usually just sticking an arm in through the bedroom window and snitching them from their beds,’ the BFG said.
‘Like you did to me.’
‘Ah, but I isn’t eating you,’ the BFG said.
‘How else do they catch them?’ Sophie asked.
‘Sometimes,’ the BFG said, ‘they is swimmeling in from the sea like fishies with only their heads showing above the water, and then out comes a big hairy hand and grabbles someone off the beach.’
‘Children as well?’
‘Often chiddlers,’ the BFG said. ‘Little chiddlers who is building sandcastles on the beach. That is who the swimmeling ones are after. Little chiddlers is not so tough to eat as old grandmamma, so says the Childchewing Giant.’
As they talked, the BFG was galloping fast over the land. Sophie was standing right up in his waistcoat pocket now and holding on to the edge with both hands. Her head and shoulders were in the open and the wind was blowing in her hair.
‘How else do they catch people?’ she asked.
‘All of them is having their own special ways of catching the human bean,’ the BFG said. ‘The Meatdripping Giant is preferring to pretend he is a big tree growing in the park. He is standing in the park in the dusky evening and he is holding great big branches over his head, and there he is waiting until some happy families is coming to have a picnic under the spreading tree. The Meatdripping Giant is watching them as they lay out their little picnic. But in the end it is the Meatdripper who is having the picnic.’
‘It’s too awful!’ Sophie cried.
‘The Gizzardgulping Giant is a city lover,’ the BFG went on. ‘The Gizzardgulper is lying high up between the roofs of houses in the big cities. He is lying there snuggy as a sniggler and watching the human beans walking on the street below, and when he sees one that looks like it has a whoppsy-good flavour, he grabs it. He is simply reaching down and snitching it off the street like a monkey taking a nut. He says it is nice to be able to pick and choose what you is having for your supper. He says it is like choosing from a menu.’
‘Don’t people
him doing it?’ Sophie asked.
‘Never is they seeing him. Do not forget it is dusky-dark at this time. Also, the Gizzardgulper has a very fast arm. His arm is going up and down quicker than squinkers.’
‘But if all these people are disappearing every night, surely there’s some sort of an outcry?’ Sophie said.
‘The world is a whopping big place,’ the BFG said. ‘It has a hundred different countries. The giants is clever. They is careful not to be skididdling off to the same country too often. They is always switchfiddling around.’
‘Even so… ‘ Sophie said.
‘Do not forget,’ the BFG said, ‘that human beans is disappearing everywhere all the time even
the giants is guzzling them up. Human beans is killing each other much quicker than the giants is doing it.’
‘But they don’t
each other,’ Sophie said.
‘Giants isn’t eating each other either,’ the BFG said. ‘Nor is giants
each other. Giants is not very lovely, but they is not killing each other. Nor is crockadowndillies killing other crockadowndillies. Nor is pussy-cats killing pussycats.’
‘They kill mice,’ Sophie said.
‘Ah, but they is not killing their own kind,’ the BFG said. ‘Human beans is the only animals that is killing their own kind.’
‘Don’t poisonous snakes kill each other?’ Sophie asked. She was searching desperately for another creature that behaved as badly as the human.
‘Even poisnowse snakes is never killing each other,’ the BFG said. ‘Nor is the most fearsome creatures like tigers and rhinostossterisses. None of them is ever killing their own kind. Has you ever thought about that?’
Sophie kept silent.
‘I is not understanding human beans at all,’ the BFG said. ‘You is a human bean and you is saying it is grizzling and horrigust for giants to be eating human beans. Right or left?’
‘Right,’ Sophie said.
‘But human beans is squishing
each other
all the time,’ the BFG said. ‘They is shootling guns and going up in aerioplanes to drop their bombs on each other’s heads every week. Human beans is always killing other human beans.’
He was right. Of course he was right and Sophie knew it. She was beginning to wonder whether humans were actually any better than giants. ‘Even so,’ she said, defending her own race, ‘I think it’s rotten that those foul giants should go off every night to eat humans. Humans have never done
any harm.’
‘That is what the little piggy-wig is saying every day’ the BFG answered. ‘He is saying, “I has never done any harm to the human bean so why should he be eating me?” ’
‘Oh dear,’ Sophie said.
‘The human beans is making rules to suit themselves,’ the BFG went on. ‘But the rules they is making do not suit the little piggy-wiggies. Am I right or left?’
‘Right,’ Sophie said.
‘Giants is also making rules. Their rules is not suiting the human beans. Everybody is making his own rules to suit himself.’
‘But you don’t like it that those beastly giants are eating humans every night, do you?’ Sophie asked.
‘I do not,’ the BFG answered firmly. ‘One right is not making two lefts. Is you quite cosy down there in my pocket?’
‘I’m fine,’ Sophie said.
Then suddenly, once again, the BFG went into that magical top gear of his. He began hurtling forward with phenomenal leaps. His speed was unbelievable. The landscape became blurred and again Sophie had to duck down out of the whistling gale to save her head from being blown off her shoulders. She crouched in the pocket and listened to the wind screaming past. It came knifing in through the tiny peep-hole in the pocket and whooshed around her like a hurricane.
But this time the BFG didn’t stay in top gear long. It seemed as though he had had some barrier to cross, a vast mountain perhaps or an ocean or a great desert, but having crossed it, he once again slowed down to his normal gallop and Sophie was able to pop her head up and look out once more at the view.
She noticed immediately that they were now in an altogether paler country. The sun had disappeared above a film of vapour. The air was becoming cooler every minute. The land was flat and treeless and there seemed to be no colour in it at all.
Every minute, the mist became thicker. The air became colder still and everything became paler and paler until soon there was nothing but grey and white all around them. They were in a country of swirling mists and ghostly vapours. There was some sort of grass underfoot but it was not green. It was ashy grey. There was no sign of a living creature and no sound at all except for the soft thud of the BFG’s footsteps as he hurtled on through the fog.
Suddenly he stopped. ‘We is here at last!’ he announced. He bent down and lifted Sophie from his pocket and put her on the ground. She was still in her nightie and her feet were bare. She shivered and stared around her at the swirling mists and ghostly vapours.
‘Where are we?’ she asked.
‘We is in Dream Country,’ the BFG said. ‘This is where all dreams is beginning.’
The Big Friendly Giant put the suitcase on the ground. He bent down low so that his enormous face was close to Sophie’s. ‘From now on, we is keeping as still as winky little micies,’ he whispered.
Sophie nodded. The misty vapour swirled around her. It made her cheeks damp and left dewdrops in her hair.
The BFG opened the suitcase and took out several empty glass jars. He set them ready on the ground, with their screw tops removed. Then he stood up very straight. His head was now high up in the swirling mist and it kept disappearing, then appearing again. He was holding the long net in his right hand.
Sophie, staring upwards, saw through the mist that his colossal ears were beginning to swivel out from his head. They began waving gently to and fro.
Suddenly the BFG pounced. He leaped high in the air and swung the net through the mist with a great swishing sweep of his arm. ‘Got him!’ he cried. ‘Ajar! Ajar! Quick quick quick!’ Sophie picked up a jar and held it up to him. He grabbed hold of it. He lowered the net. Very carefully he tipped something absolutely invisible from the net into the jar. He dropped the net and swiftly clapped one hand over the jar. ‘The top!’ he whispered. ‘The jar top quick!’ Sophie picked up the screw top and handed it to him. He screwed it on tight and the jar was closed. The BFG was very excited. He held the jar close to one ear and listened intently.
‘It’s a winksquiffler!’ he whispered with a thrill in his voice. ‘It’s… it’s… it’s… it’s even better. It’s a phizzwizard! It’s a golden phizzwizard!’
Sophie stared at him.
‘Oh my, oh my!’ he said, holding the jar in front of him. ‘This will be giving some little tottler a very happy night when I is blowing it in!’
‘Is it really a good one?’ Sophie asked.

A good one?
’ he cried. ‘It’s a golden phizzwizard! It is not often I is getting one of these!’ He handed the jar to Sophie and said, ‘Please be still as a starfish now. I is thinking there may be a whole swarm of phizzwizards up here today. And do kindly stop breathing. You is terribly noisy down there.’
‘I haven’t moved a muscle,’ Sophie said.
‘Then don’t,’ the BFG answered sharply. Once again he stood up tall in the mist, holding his net at the ready. Then came the long silence, the waiting, the listening, and at last, with surprising suddenness came the leap and the swish of the net.
‘Another jar!’ he cried. ‘Quick quick quick!’
When the second dream was safely in the jar and the top was screwed down, the BFG held it to his ear.
!’ he cried. ‘Oh mince my maggots! Oh swipe my swoggles!’
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