25. The Glass Pillar
It was the business of a singer of holy and moral tales to recite good stories and make people moral. Once he proclaimed, “Good men all, listen. Above all, do not go after women, do not fornicate. Do you know what happens to fornicators? There's a big glass pillar in hell. They heat it till it's red-hot and they make the sinners go through a hole no bigger than a needle. Beware!”
The audience was very impressed and said, “True, true,” shook their heads, admired his skill with words, and gave him ten pice instead of the usual one pice. His favorite harlot was also in the audience. She found the talk about the glass pillar in hell quite terrifying.
The singer finished his day's recitation and, after he had made sure everyone was safely home in bed, went secretly to the harlot's house. He knocked on the door. Without opening the door, the harlot said, “ Ayyo, why did you come? You yourself said: there is a red-hot pillar in hell, and sinners will be sent through a hole no bigger than a needle. Aren't you scared?”
“O, you innocent, don't fear. Millions of people have gone through that hole. So it's become enlarged, so large indeed that even elephants and camels can pass through it without any harm. Come, open the door!” he said.
[NKTT, but cf. Motif Q 241, Adultery punished; Motif Q 414.0.3, Burning as punishment for adultery; and Motif K 2285, Villain disguised as ascetic nun.]