The Hobyahs

Commenting on Frank Key’s bedtime story about the glib hatter,  Adelephant recommended the story of The Hobyahs as suitable follow-up reading matter. This remarkable folk story was collected in Joseph Jacobs’ 1890 work ‘English Fairy Tales’. I offer no analysis or comment – it really does speak for itself…

Once there was an old man and woman and a little girl, and they all lived in a house made of hempstalks. Now the old man had a little dog named Turpie; and one night the Hobyahs came and said, “Hobyah! Hobyah! Hobyah! Tear down the hempstalks, eat up the old man and woman, and carry off the little girl!” But little dog Turpie barked so that the Hobyahs ran off; and the old man said, “Little dog Turpie barks so that I cannot sleep nor slumber, and if I live till morning I will cut off his tail.” So in the morning the old man cut off little dog Turpie’s tail.

The next night the Hobyahs came again, and said, “Hobyah! Hobyah! Hobyah! Tear down the hempstalks, eat up the old man and woman, and carry off the little girl!” But little dog Turpie barked so that the Hobyahs ran off; and the old man said, “Little dog Turpie barks so that I cannot sleep nor slumber, and if I live till morning I will cut off one of his legs.” So in the morning the old man cut off one of little dog Turpie’s legs.

The next night the Hobyahs came again, and said, “Hobyah! Hobyah! Hobyah! Tear down the hempstalks, eat up the old man and woman, and carry off the little girl!” But little dog Turpie barked so that the Hobyahs ran off; and the old man said, “Little dog Turpie barks so that I cannot sleep nor slumber, and if I live till morning I will cut off another of his legs.” So in the morning the old man cut off another of little dog Turpie’s legs.

The next night the Hobyahs came again, and said, “Hobyah! Hobyah! Hobyah! Tear down the hempstalks, eat up the old man and woman, and carry off the little girl!” But little dog Turpie barked so that the Hobyahs ran off; and the old man said, “Little dog Turpie barks so that I cannot sleep nor slumber, and if I live till morning I will cut off another of his legs.” So in the morning the old man cut off another of little dog Turpie’s legs.

The next night the Hobyahs came again, and said, “Hobyah! Hobyah! Hobyah! Tear down the hempstalks, eat up the old man and woman, and carry off the little girl!” But little dog Turpie barked so that the Hobyahs ran off; and the old man said, “Little dog Turpie barks so that I cannot sleep nor slumber, and if I live till morning I will cut off another of his legs.” So in the morning the old man cut off another of little dog Turpie’s legs.

The next night the Hobyahs came again, and said, “Hobyah! Hobyah! Hobyah! Tear down the hempstalks, eat up the old man and woman, and carry off the little girl!” But little dog Turpie barked so that the Hobyahs ran off; and the old man said, “Little dog Turpie barks so that I cannot sleep nor slumber, and if I live till morning I will cut off little dog Turpie’s head.” So in the morning the old man cut off little dog Turpie’s head.

The next night the Hobyahs came again, and said, “Hobyah! Hobyah! Hobyah! Tear down the hempstalks, eat up the old man and woman, and carry off the little girl!” And when the Hobyahs found that little dog Turpie’s head was off they tore down the hempstalks, ate up the old man and woman, and carried the little girl off in a bag.

And when the Hobyahs came to their home they hung up the bag with the little girl in it, and every Hobyah knocked on the top of the bag and said, “Look me! look me!” And then they went to sleep until the next night, for the Hobyahs slept in the daytime.

The little girl cried a great deal, and a man with a big dog came that way and heard her crying. When he asked her how she came there and she told him, he put the dog in the bag and took the little girl to his home.

The next night the Hobyahs took down the bag and knocked on the top of it, and said “Look me! look me!” and when they opened the bag–the big dog jumped out and ate them all up; so there are no Hobyahs now.

FIN.

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About Author Profile: Brit

'Brit' is the blogging name of Andrew Nixon, a writer and publisher who lives in Bristol. He is the editor and co-founder of The Dabbler.

2 thoughts on “The Hobyahs

  1. maureen.nixon@btinternet.com'
    August 13, 2014 at 02:49

    This story haunted my nightmares for many months when I was five or six years old. It was one of several gruesome tales in the Beacon Reading scheme used in my primary school. I was a fluent reader before I started school and the teachers in the infants classes would borrow books from the junior classes for me to read while my classmates were getting to grips with Janet and John. Looking at it again here, I’m not sure that it was suitable reading for older children either!

  2. richard.barraclough@gmail.com'
    Baz
    August 15, 2014 at 01:08

    I read the Hobyahs (pronounced Hoobyahs in my house) to my kids. Encores are always required. Frightening? Stuff and nonsense. Try Bluebeard if you want real damage.

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