Chapter 5

Of the Slaying of Vali.

The tale tells that in harvest-tide men fare up into the fells, and all changed was Odd's ingathering from what had been; for at this autumn folding he missed forty of his wethers, and they the best of his flock.;. They were searched for wide over fell and heath, and were not found: men deemed this wondrous, for Odd was accounted luckier With his sheep than others so hard men drave the search that other countries, as well as the home country, were searched, and nothing done; and at last the matter dropped, but there was diverse talk as to how it came about.

Odd was sorry of cheer that winter season; so Vali his kinsman asked why he was nought glad: "What! dost thou take the losing of thy sheep so much to heart ? thou art not much of a man if such things grieve thee."

Odd answers: "I sorrow not for my wethers; but this I deem a worse matter, that I wot not who has stolen them." Vali answers: "Thinkest thou then that so it verily is; and whither, dost thou turn to most then?"

Saith Odd: "It is not to be hidden that I deem Uspak hath stolen them." Vali answers: "Far away then is your friendship fled from the time when thou settedst him over all thy goods.",. Odd said that that had been the greatest folly, and that things had gone better than might have been looked for. Vali said: " Many talked thereof as of a wondrous thing; but now. I will that thou lay not this so hastily to his charge; for there is a risk of rumour getting about, that it seems lightly spoken: now shall we make a bargain together that I will certify thee of the truth, but thou shalt let me deal therein as I will."

So they struck that bargain, and Vali went his ways with goods of his: he rides out to Waterdale and Longdale selling his goods, and was friendly and easy to deal with. So he goes his ways till he comes to Swalastead, and there has good entertainment, and all joyous was Uspak. But on the morrow Vali arrays him to depart, and Uspak led him from the garth, and asked many things of Odd, and Vali spake well of his doings. Uspak made much of him, saying that he was a bounteous man: "But came not some loss upon him last harvest?" Vali said that so it was.

"What is the guess about those missing sheep, such a lucky sheep-owner as Odd has been heretofore? " said Uspak. Vali answers: "The guessing is not all one way; but some deem it to have been the work of men."

Uspak says : "That is well to be deemed; and yet such tricks are but for few."

"Yea surely," saith Vali. Said Uspak : "Has Odd any guess about it?" "He saith but little thereof," said Vali, "but among other folk is there all the more talk how it was done." " As may well be," said Uspak.

"So it goes," said Vali, "after all we two have said, that some men say it is not unlike that thou must have had a hand in it; for they put it to-gether that ye parted in anger, and that the sheep were missing not long after."

Uspak answers: "I could not have thought that thou wouldst say such things; and but we were such friends as we be, I would avenge it sorely."

Says Vali: "There is no need to hide the thing, or to be so mad wroth : I have been looking over thy matters here; and thou mayest not put it from thee; for I can see that thou hast much more of stores than are like to be well gotten."

Uspak answered : "It will not be so proven: but what will our foes' words be, if our friends speak in this wise?"

Vali said: "This is not spoken unto thee in enmity, seeing that I speak to thy hearing alone; for now if thou wilt do after my will, and confess the matter, it shall fall but lightly on thee; for I shall find a way thereto: I have sold my wares wide about the country, and I will say that thou hast taken the money over, and bought therewith flesh-meat and other things: no man will misdoubt this, and I will so bring it about that thou shalt have no shame hereof, if thou wilt do after my counsel." Uspak said that he would not confess to it." Then will things go a worser road," said Vali; "but it is thine own doing."

Therewith they parted, and Vali fared home. Odd asked him if he had found out aught about the missing sheep, and Vali let out but little thereover.

Quoth Odd: "No need to hide now that Uspak has stolen them; for thou wouldst fain excuse him if thou mightest."

So wore the winter quietly: but when it was spring, and the Days of Summoning were come, Odd went his ways with twenty men, till he came anigh the garth of Swalastead; then said Vali to Odd: "Bait your horses here awhile, and I will ride to the house and see Uspak, if peradventure he be willing to make atonement, and then the case need go no further."

So did they, and Vali rides up to the house; there was no one without, and the door was open, so Vali went in: it was dark in the house, and all unwares of him a man leaps up from the bench and smites him between the shoulders, so that he falls straightway. Then cried Vali: "Save thyself, wretched man! Odd is hard by the garth, and is minded to slay thee: send thy wife to meet him, and let her say that we are at one, and that thou hast confessed to the matter; but that I have gone to call in moneys of mine out in the Dales."

Said Uspak: "This is one of the worst of deeds; I had minded it for Odd, and not for thee."

So Swala meets Odd, and tells him that they are at one again, Vali and Uspak; "and Vali bade thee turn back."

Odd believed it, and turned back and rode home.

Vali lost his life there, and his corpse was brought to Mel.

Odd thought the tidings great and evil; he gat shame thereof, and folk deemed it a miserable hap.

Uspak vanished away so that men knew nought what was become of him.