The Hobyahs

Hobyahs

The Hobyahs is an old English fairy tale that, for reasons mysterious even to me, I am completely taken with.  I’ve reproduced the story below.

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 do Turpie’s head was off they tore down hemp­stalks, ate up the woman, and car­ried the 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 at 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.”

Jacobs, Joseph and John Dickson Batten ed. 1967. More English Fairy Tales. New York: Dover Publications.

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