Warning: Before you read any further with this post, there is animal mutilation of a dog, and I am well aware this is a very sensitive subject for a lot of people. There is also child endangerment in this story.
A Hobyah is a cannibalistic goblin from English fairy tales. The story involving Hobyahs can be rather scary as they are never really described, leaving them to the imagination of those reading to fill in the blanks. That hasn’t stopped a few from trying to describe the Hobyahs as some sort of short, humanoid reptile or salamander-looking creature.
This is the main story featuring Hobyahs. It was collected by Mr S. V. Proudfit, in Perth, Australia. Later, Joseph Jacobs includes the story in his More English Fairy Tales collection.
Once there had been an old man and woman and a little girl who all lived in a house made of hempstalks. The old man had a dog by the name Turpie. One night, the Hobyah began to show up crying: “’Hobyah! Hobyah! Hobyah! Tear down the hempstalks, eat up the old man and woman, and carry off the little girl!”
At this, the dog, Turpie began barking fiercely causing the Hobyahs to run away. In anger, the old man said that as he couldn’t sleep, he would cut the dog’s tail off in the morning.
And that is what the old man did…
The next night, the Hobyahs returned, once more crying: “’Hobyah! Hobyah! Hobyah! Tear down the hempstalks, eat up the old man and woman, and carry off the little girl!”
Once more Turpie began barking, scaring off the Hobyahs and once more the old man complained in anger that this time if the dog didn’t stop barking, he would cut off one of its legs.
And again, that is what the old man did…
This pattern would continue for the next few nights. Each night the Hobyahs would come crying: “’Hobyah! Hobyah! Hobyah! Tear down the hempstalks, eat up the old man and woman, and carry off the little girl!”
And each time, Turpie would begin barking, scaring off the Hobyahs, and each time the old man would complain, saying they would cut off another leg on the dog as he couldn’t sleep.
This continued until the old man got to where he cut off Turpie’s head in order to silence the dog and be able to get to sleep.
Now, when the Hobyahs came the next night crying: “’Hobyah! Hobyah! Hobyah! Tear down the hempstalks, eat up the old man and woman, and carry off the little girl!” There was no Turpie to bark and scare off the Hobyahs. With no one to stop them, the Hobyahs tore down the hempstalks and ate up the old man and woman.
As for the little girl, the Hobyahs threw her into a bag and carried her away to their home in a cave where they hung up the sack. All the Hobyah took turns to hit the top of the bag crying: “Lookme! Lookme!” Then all the Hobyah went to sleep as day had come.
Terrified, the little girl began to cry. Luck was with the girl for a man and his great big dog were in the area and they heard her cries. I imagine this man’s dog hearing the girl and leading his master to her.
Finding the little girl in the bag, the man asked how she came to be in there. After hearing her story, the man placed his dog into the bag and took the little girl home.
When night came and the Hobyah’s woke up, they took down the bag, hitting it on top, once more crying: “Lookme! Lookme!”
As the Hobyahs opened the bag, the big dog leaped out and ate up all the Hobyahs.
After that, there were no more Hobyahs.
There have been a few different retellings of The Hobyahs.
In one retelling, it is the old woman who gets carried away by the Hobyahs in a bag. The old man gets a chance to redeem himself by restoring Turpie back to life. Or, it is the little girl who brings Turpie back to life and the two are able to escape and defeat the Hobyahs.
Joseph Jacobs notes the Hobyahs as a type of bogie or spirit.
The story of The Hobyahs seems to be a popular, though creepy story that many in Australia are familiar with. A couple authors such as Robert D. San Souci have retold the story as a children’s book and Joan Aiken has the Hobyahs appear in her book The Witch of Clatteringshaw