“At night when the moon shines and wind blows, you can hear a voice say: Tailypo, tailypo, now I’ve got my tailypo.”
Tailypo is a North American folktale with roots both in Appalachia and the South. There are countless versions of this story.
|Johanna and Paul Galdone's version.|
It was late in autumn and the old man had not had much luck with his hunting. He prepared a meager meal of one thin rabbit for himself and his dogs.
Heading for bed he spots a strange cat-like creature enter his cabin through a crack in the floor.
It is fat with a dark coat of fur. Its tail is large and bushy. The man still hungry grabs a hatchet and chases the strange creature. He chops off its tail and it leaves the cabin the way it entered--screaming.
The old man then cooks the tail and eats it—it tastes so good he does not share it with his dogs. He then goes off to bed. Within the hour, he awakens to the sound of a loud thumping. He then hears something scratching on the cabin wall.
A shrill voice says, “Tailypo, tailypo, who has my tailypo?”
He calls his dogs, “Here, here, here” and opens the cabin’s door. Chaos ensues with the dogs barking wildly, trying to follow the creature up the wall of the cabin. Their barking became faint as they chased the creature into the swamp.
When the dogs return, Uno is not with them—the man is unconcerned for his dogs often hunt on their own-- he returns to his bed as he hears the other two dogs settle down on the porch.
Around midnight he is awakened once more by a loud thump.
This time the scratching sound is at the back of his cabin—near where he lay. It sounded like the wood was being shredded and torn away fiercely.
For the second time he hears, “Tailypo, tailypo, who has my tailypo?” His dogs rush around the side of the cabin barking and growling. He gets up in time to see just Cumptico-Calico chase the dark figure back into the swamp.
When Cumptico-Calico doesn’t return-- the man reassures himself that Calico like the other two dogs was hungry and had found something else to hunt—exhausted the man goes back to bed.
Just before dawn he is awakened for the third time. Now the thumping is at the foot of his bed and he once more hears the scratching. He watches as his covers are pulled off. Frightened, the man dares not look anymore.
He feels the creature jump on the bed and then it poked him with its sharp claws as it walked up his body.
It then demanded loudly, “Tailypo, tailypo where is my tailypo?” The man unable to move looked up into its gleaming yellow eyes.
Several days later, a neighbor found the old man’s bed shredded to pieces with random bones laying about. His dogs were never seen again.
They say when the moon shines bright, one can hear way off in the swamp, “Tailypo, tailypo, now I have my tailypo.”
Here is a link that lists several versions of this folktale.
One favorite version of this story is presented in Johanna Galdone’s picture book entitled, The Tailypo: A Ghost Story. Her tale leaves so much to the reader’s imagination that it actually is one of the scariest versions.