Now Gunnar is about to ride to the Thing, but a great crowd of men from the Side (1) east turned in as guests at his house.
Gunnar bade them come and be his guests again, as they rode back from the Thing; and they said they would do so.
Now they ride to the Thing, and Njal and his sons were there. That Thing was still and quiet.
Now we must take up the story, and say that Hallgerda comes to talk with Malcolm the thrall.
"I have thought of an errand to send thee on," she says; "thou shalt go to Kirkby."
"And what shall I do there?" he says.
"Thou shalt steal from thence food enough to load two horses, and mind and have butter and cheese; but thou shalt lay fire in the storehouse, and all will think that it has arisen out of heedlessness, but no one will think that there has been theft."
"Bad have I been," said the thrall, "but never have I been a thief."
"Hear a wonder!" says Hallgerda, "thou makest thyself good, thou that hast been both thief and murderer; but thou shalt not dare to do aught else than go, else will I let thee be slain."
He thought he knew enough of her to be sure that she would so do if he went not; so he took at night two horses and laid packsaddles on them, and went his way to Kirkby. The house-dog knew him and did not bark at him, and ran and fawned on him. After that he went to the storehouse and loaded the two horses with food out of it, but the storehouse he burnt, and the dog he slew.
He went up along by Rangriver, and his shoe-thong snapped; so he takes his knife and makes the shoe right, but he leaves the knife and belt lying there behind him.
He fares till he comes to Lithend; then he misses the knife, but dares not to go back.
Now he brings Hallgerda the food, and she showed herself well pleased at it.
Next morning when men came out of doors at Kirkby there they saw great scathe. Then a man was sent to the Thing to tell Otkell; he bore the loss well, and said it must have happened because the kitchen was next to the storehouse; and all thought that that was how it happened.
Now men ride home from the Thing, and many rode to Lithend. Hallgerda set food on the board, and in came cheese and butter. Gunnar knew that such food was not to be looked for in his house, and asked Hallgerda whence it came?
"Thence," she says; "whence thou mightest well eat of it; besides, it is no man's business to trouble himself with housekeeping."
Gunner got wroth and said, "Ill indeed is it if I am a partaker with thieves;" and with that he gave her a slap on the cheek.
She said she would bear that slap in mind and repay it if she could.
So she went off and he went with her, and then all that was on the board was cleared away, but flesh-meat was brought in instead, and all thought that was because the flesh was thought to have been got in a better way.
Now the men who had been at the Thing fare away.
(1) That is, from the sea-side or shore, the long narrow strip of habitable land between the mountains and the sea in the south-east of Iceland.