Nov 4, 2010



               The Hob was three and a half feet tall, sturdy, and suitably attired in a red plaid shirt and overalls. Sporting a straw hat and whistling, he stopped what he was doing when he saw the children approaching.
     “Howdy! I fig-urred I’d start in the barn,” he greeted them in an overly affected drawl.
     “Hi. Who’re you?” Eleanor asked.
     “I’m Floyd,” he announced. Proudly, as if she should have heard of him.
     “And what brings you here?” Rob asked.
     “Wa-l-l-l,” Floyd began, “there’s life here again. Y’all need a Hob to keep the place tiptop.” He waggled his eyebrows, smiled a salesman’s smile, and jerked his thumb at his own chest.      “I’m your Hob. I’ll have this place sparkling faster than you kin shake a stick. Then I’ll hit the house. Hobs, see, are better ‘n Goblins, Tomtes, or Brownies. Tomte’s are prickly, peevish types. They’re all hairy, too. And Brownies are housebound. I can work inside or out. House, barn, makes no nevermind to me.”
     “We have a Goblin,” Patters informed him. “And Brownies.”
     “We do?” The kids all asked at the same time, surprised.
     “Yes. In the house where they belong. This barn is already being looked after. By me. Your services are not needed,” she dismissed the Hob.
     “Now, now. Let’s not be too hasty. I think you’ll find my comp’ny to yer likin’,” he said.
     “And knock off that ridiculous accent,” Patters snapped. “I know you speak properly. No, we’re fine here. You may move along.”
     “Too late, honey. I did the ritual.”
     Patter’s eyes narrowed and she hissed. “You stay out of my way. And be discreet—we have Humans who aren’t aware,” she said.
     “Wait. What ritual?” Rob asked.
     “The Hob ritual. When we take a new residence, we perform a ritual pledging our service and fealty. We choose a stone from the property and swear allegiance, and we must carry the stone at all times. I have mine here on my watch fob.” He lifted a pocket watch from the front of his overalls and showed it to the kids. “It also renews our magic. A Hob with no home has faulty magic. But the rule is clear. One Hob family per residence. If a ritual has already been performed by a residing Hob, the squatter Hob gets their fingers singed when he or she tries to perform the ritual. Smarts, too,” he added, rubbing his fingers with a frown. He gave Patters a triumphant look. “So it’s a done deal. I’m here to stay.”
     Patters turned to the kids and said, “You’ll regret this. You’ll see. Before you know it, he’ll be Lord of The Manor.” She stomped off, tail stiff in the air.