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The Hobyahs: a Scotch Nursery Tale


When a child, I used to hear the following story told in a Scotch family that came from the vicinity of Perth. Whether the story came with the family I am unable to say. I have spelled the word “Hobyah” as it was pronounced.

The effectiveness of the story lies in a certain sepulchral monotone in rendering the cry of the Hobyah, and his terrible “look me.”

S. V. Proudfit.
Washington, D. C.

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 Hobyah’s 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 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 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 ancl she had 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.


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