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He'd seen horses lowpin' in a ring at Slaidburn Fair, but 'twere nowt anent squirrels lowpin' i' t' espins round t' dub. "Efter a while Doed thowt that Melsh Dick would sooin give ower playin' tunes on t' whistle, but he did nowt o' t' sort. He just played faster nor iver, an' all t' time he kept yan eye fixed on squirrels an' yan eye fixed on lile Doed, to see if owt would happen him.

They didn't mak no babblement, but just set theirsens down on their huggans, pricked up their lugs, cocked their tails ower their rigs, and kept their een fixed on Melsh Dick. "Well, when Melsh Dick thowt he'd gethered squirrels enew, he started to play a tune, an' 'twere an uncouth tune an' all.

"When Melsh Dick heard that for o' course t' lad was Melsh Dick hissen he said that if Doed would coom wi' him, he'd sooin gie him what he wanted. He'd bin climmin' t' trees an' had catched a squirrel an' putten it i' t' basket he'd browt his dinner in. "Well, lile Doed hardlins knew what to do. 'Twere gettin' lat, an' there were summat about t' lad that set him agin him.

When Melsh Dick heerd him say that he'd coom wi' him, his een fair glistened, an' he set off through t' wood wi' lile Doed followin' efter him. T' wood was full of gert oak-trees, wi' birks set amang 'em that had just begun to turn colour.

Then all on a sudden he gat agate o' laughin', for when he saw t' mooin' i' t' watter he bethowt him o' a tale his mother had telled him o' soom daft fowks that had seen t' mooin i' t' watter an' thowt it were a cheese an' started to rake it out wi' a hay-rake. "When Melsh Dick heerd him laughin', he were fair mad.

But then he bethowt him o' t' squirrel, an' t' squirrel were ower mich for him. So he said to Melsh Dick that he'd gan wi' him an' fotch t' squirrel, but he munnot stop lang, or fowks would consate that he'd lossen his way i' t' wood an' would coom seekin' him.

They were that close togither, 'twere just like a gert coil o' red rope twinin' round t' watter; and all t' time they kept their faces turned to Melsh Dick, an' their een were blazin' like coals o' fire. Round an' round they went, as lish as could be, an' lile Doed just hoddled his breeath an' glowered at 'em.

"When lile Doed heerd him tell o' squirrels, he bethowt him o' t' squirrel i' t' basket an' wanted to set forrard. "'Bide a bit, says Melsh Dick, 'an' I'll show thee more squirrels nor iver thou's seen i' all thy life.

Melsh is a dialect word for unripe, and the popular belief is that Melsh Dick keeps guard over unripe nuts; while "Melsh Dick'll catch thee, lad" was formerly a threat used to frighten children when they went a-nutting in the hazel-shaws.

Melsh Dick was no langer sittin' anent him, an' there was niver a squirrel left i' t' trees; all that he could clap een on was t' espin leaves ditherin' i' t' wind an' t' lile waves o' t' dub wappin' agean t' bank. "Doed was well-nigh starved to deeath wi' cowd an' hunger, an' t' poor lad started roarin' same as if his heart would breek.