فصل 20کتاب: بی. اف. جی / فصل 20
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The Royal Breakfast
There was a frantic scurry among the Palace servants when orders were received from the Queen that a twenty-four-foot giant must be seated with Her Majesty in the Great Ballroom within the next half-hour.
The butler, an imposing personage named Mr Tibbs, was in supreme command of all the Palace servants and he did the best he could in the short time available. A man does not rise to become the Queens butler unless he is gifted with extraordinary ingenuity, adaptability, versatility, dexterity, cunning, sophistication, sagacity, discretion and a host of other talents that neither you nor I possess. Mr Tibbs had them all. He was in the butlers pantry sipping an early morning glass of light ale when the order reached him. In a split second he had made the following calculations in his head if a normal six-foot man requires a three-foot-high table to eat off, a twenty-four-foot giant will require a twelve-foot-high table.
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 dont 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 Princes 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 step-ladders.
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 tablecloth 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 didnt 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 butlers 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 giants 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 giants table. This was for the Queen and for Sophie. The fact that the giants 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 Sophies 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 bogs winkles! he cried. What was that?
It was Louis the Fifteenth, the Queen said, looking slightly put out.
Hes 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 gumdrops! 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. Whats 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 BFGs 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.
They dont seem to have stunted his growth, the Queen said.
The BFG grabbed the garden spade and scooped up all the eggs, sausages, bacon and potatoes in one go and shovelled them into his enormous mouth.
By goggles! he cried. This stuff is making snozzcumbers taste like swatchwallop!
The Queen glanced up, frowning. Mr Tibbs looked down at his toes and his lips moved in silent prayer.
That was only one titchy little bite, the BFG said. Is you having any more of this delunctious grubble in your cupboard, Majester?
Tibbs, the Queen said, showing true regal hospitality, fetch the gentleman another dozen fried eggs and a dozen sausages.
Mr Tibbs swam out of the room muttering unspeakable words to himself and wiping his brow with a white handkerchief.
The BFG lifted the huge jug and took a swallow. Owch! he cried, blowing a mouthful across the Ballroom. Please, what is this horrible swigpill I is drinking, Majester?
Its coffee, the Queen told him. Freshly roasted.
Its filthsome! the BFG cried out. Where is the frobscottle?
The what? the Queen asked.
Delumptious fizzy frobscottle, the BFG answered. Everyone must be drinking frobscottle with breakfast, Majester. Then we can all be whizzpopping happily together afterwards.
What does he mean? the Queen said, frowning at Sophie. What is whizzpopping?
Sophie kept a very straight face. BFG, she said, there is no frobscottle here and whizzpopping is strictly forbidden!
What! cried the BFG. No frobscottle? No whizzpopping? No glumptious music? No boom-boom-boom?
Absolutely not, Sophie told him firmly.
If he wants to sing, please dont stop him, the Queen said.
He doesnt want to sing, Sophie said.
He said he wants to make music, the Queen went on. Shall I send for a violin?
No, Your Majesty Sophie said. Hes only joking.
A sly little smile crossed the BFGs face. Listen, he said, peering down at Sophie, if they isnt having any frobscottle here in the Palace, I can still go whizzpopping perfectly well without it if I is trying hard enough.
No! cried Sophie. Dont! Youre not to! I beg you!
Music is very good for the digestion, the Queen said. When Im up in Scotland, they play the bagpipes outside the window while Im eating. Do play something.
I has Her Majesters permission! cried the BFG, and all at once he let fly with a whizzpopper that sounded as though a bomb had exploded in the room.
The Queen jumped.
Whoopee! shouted the BFG. That is better than bagglepipes, is it not, Majester?
It took the Queen a few seconds to get over the shock. I prefer the bagpipes, she said. But she couldnt stop herself smiling.
During the next twenty minutes, a whole relay of footmen were kept busy hurrying to and from the kitchen carrying third helpings and fourth helpings and fifth helpings of fried eggs and sausages for the ravenous and delighted BFG.
When the BFG had consumed his seventy-second fried egg, Mr Tibbs sidled up to the Queen. He bent low from the waist and whispered in her ear, Chef sends his apologies, Your Majesty, and he says he has no more eggs in the kitchen.
Whats wrong with the hens? the Queen said.
Nothings wrong with the hens, Your Majesty, Mr Tibbs whispered.
Then tell them to lay more, the Queen said. She looked up at the BFG. Have some toast and marmalade while youre waiting, she said to him.
The toast is finished, Mr Tibbs whispered, and chef says there is no more bread.
Tell him to bake more, the Queen said.
While all this was going on, Sophie had been telling the Queen everything, absolutely everything about her visit to Giant Country. The Queen listened, appalled. When Sophie had finished, the Queen looked up at the BFG, who was sitting high above her. He was now eating a sponge-cake.
Big Friendly Giant, she said, last night those man-eating brutes came to England. Can you remember where they went the night before?
The BFG put a whole round sponge-cake into his mouth and chewed it slowly while he thought about this question. Yes, Majester, he said. I do think I is remembering where they said they was going the night before last. They was galloping off to Sweden for the Sweden sour taste.
Fetch me a telephone, the Queen commanded.
Mr Tibbs placed the instrument on the table. The Queen lifted the receiver. Get me the King of Sweden, she said.
Good morning, the Queen said. Is everything all right in Sweden?
Everything is terrible! the King of Sweden answered. There is panic in the capital! Two nights ago, twenty-six of my loyal subjects disappeared! My whole country is in a panic!
Your twenty-six loyal subjects were all eaten by giants, the Queen said. Apparently they like the taste of Swedes.
Why do they like the taste of Swedes? the King asked.
Because the Swedes of Sweden have a sweet and sour taste. So says the BFG, the Queen said.
I dont know what youre talking about, the King said, growing testy. Its hardly a joking matter when ones loyal subjects are being eaten like popcorn.
Theyve eaten mine as well, the Queen said.
Whos they, for heavens sake? the King asked.
Giants, the Queen said.
Look here, the King said, are you feeling all right?
Its been a rough morning, the Queen said. First I had a horrid nightmare, then the maid dropped my breakfast and now Ive got a giant on the piano.
You need a doctor quick! cried the King.
Ill be all right, the Queen said. I must go now. Thanks for your help. She replaced the receiver.
Your BFG is right, the Queen said to Sophie. Those nine man-eating brutes did go to Sweden.
Its horrible, Sophie said. Please stop them, Your Majesty.
Id like to make one more check before I call out the troops, the Queen said. Once more, she looked up at the BFG. He was eating doughnuts now, popping them into his mouth ten at a time, like peas. Think hard, BFG, she said. Where did those horrid giants say they were galloping off to three nights ago?
The BFG thought long and hard.
Ho-ho! he cried at last. Yes, I is remembering!
Where? asked the Queen.
One was off to Baghdad, the BFG said. As they is galloping past my cave, Fleshlumpeater is waving his arms and shouting at me, “I is off to Baghdad and I is going to Baghdad and mum and every one of their ten children as well!”
Once more, the Queen lifted the receiver. Get me the Lord Mayor of Baghdad, she said. If they dont have a Lord Mayor, get me the next best thing.
In five seconds, a voice was on the line. Here is the Sultan of Baghdad speaking, the voice said.
Listen, Sultan, the Queen said. Did anything unpleasant happen in your city three nights ago?
Every night unpleasant things are happening in Baghdad, the Sultan said. We are chopping off peoples heads like you are chopping parsley.
Ive 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!
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