48. A Peg and a Keg
A shepherd made a living by grazing other people's sheep. One day, on his way to the field, he saw something under a tree. It was a woman fast asleep on her back. The blowing wind had moved up her sari, and everything below her waist was visible. The shepherd went near her and looked closely. He thought there was a crack and a hole between her thighs.
“ Ayyayyo, ” he said, “Poor thing, she has a big hole there. Flies are swarming to it. What shall I do?” He looked around, found some clay, and began to fill up the hole with it. He dug up quite a bit of clay and tried to stop up the hole in the woman, who was still fast asleep.
While he was busy with this, a king who came there on a hunt saw him. “The fool! He's filling her up with clay. He doesn't know anything. But he would make a very good servant for my queen,” he thought, and asked him, “What are you up to?”
The shepherd said, “Oh, this poor woman has a wound between her legs. Flies are swarming all over it. I didn't want them to lay eggs and make a nest there. So I'm patching it up with clay. That's all.”
The king laughed and said, “Come with me. I'll look after you,” and took him to his queen. He said to her, “Here, I've a new servant for you. He is innocent and knows nothing.”
From that day, the shepherd did whatever the queen asked him to do. She used to get him to pour water for her bath, scrub her back, wipe her dry, and so on. One day, she sat down in the bathing house ready for a bath and asked the shepherd, “Come, why don't you also take off your clothes and join me? We'll bathe together.” He obeyed, sat down naked opposite her, and they both poured warm water on themselves, scrubbed each other, and bathed. The queen looked at the shepherd's body again and again, and asked him, “What's that?”
He answered, “Oh, that, that's a peg.”
The queen pointed between her own legs and asked, “Do you know what this is?”
He shook his head, meaning to say, “I don't.”
She said, “That's a keg.” Then she held his peg with her hand and said, “Come, put your peg into this keg.” He obeyed and did so. From that day on, a new routine began. Every day they would undress in the bathhouse, put the peg in the keg, and then take baths.
After a while, the queen's attention was no longer on the king. He wondered why she had grown indifferent to him. What had happened?
He watched them both one day from behind a window in the bathhouse. The queen had taken off her clothes and was saying to the naked shepherd, “Come now, put the peg in the keg. We'll bathe afterwards.” The king could not bear to see the sight. He walked right in and cut them both down with his scimitar, right there in the bathhouse.
[AT 1545B, The Boy Who Knew Nothing of Women.]