The Brothers and the Bullwhip©

Near the old Spanish city of Granada, there once lived two teenage brothers who were identical twins. One was named Juan and the other Pedro. They looked so much alike that their parents had trouble telling them apart. This became a problem, especially since one of the twins, Pedro, was always getting into trouble and letting his brother Juan take the punishment. But Juan loved his brother and was always nearby to protect him.

One day, while the two brothers were walking past a farmhouse, they saw a young sheep by the roadside.

“Look,” said Pedro, “a stray sheep. Let’s grab it and sell it at the market.”

“We can’t,” said Juan. “Stealing an animal means jail and many lashes from the bullwhip.”

“Ah, don’t be such a coward,” replied Pedro. “No one is around to catch us.”

Pedro kept insisting, so Juan finally gave in to the idea. Pedro grabbed the sheep and they brought it to the town market. However, when the butcher in the market examined the sheep, he saw a mark on its hooves identifying the owner. The two boys were soon arrested and taken to jail.

“Which one of you stole this sheep?” questioned the judge.

There was complete silence.

“Very well,” said the judge, turning to Pedro. “Did you steal the sheep?”

Pedro could not tell the truth. He was about to say “no,” when Juan stepped forward and said, “Your Honor, I stole the sheep.”

Pedro was surprised. He thought, How could Juan be so stupid and take all the blame?

“Good,” said the judge. “For telling the truth, you will get five lashes with the bullwhip, instead of ten lashes.”

Juan was then taken to the whip master. By the fifth stroke of the bullwhip across his back, Juan fell to the ground and had to be carried to his cell.

Time passed and Juan was freed from jail. But his brother, Pedro, was still on the road to trouble. The king and his royal guard were coming to Granada for the spring festival. Pedro planned to kidnap the king’s black stallion and hold the horse for ransom. He did not tell Juan his plan.

On the night of the festival, while the horses were still in the livery stable, Pedro hid in the hayloft. When the soldiers weren’t looking, he jumped on the king’s horse and galloped out of the stable, passing the captain of the guard. The captain jumped up and tried to pull Pedro from the horse, but he ended up with only Pedro’s shirt in his hands as he galloped away. One of the townspeople recognized the shirt as belonging to one of the twins. But which one?

The next day, both brothers were brought to face justice in the town square. Stealing the king’s horse meant death, so the executioner was standing nearby. But neither of the brothers would answer any of the questions asked by the judge. Therefore, both were handed to the executioner. He quickly stripped them of their shirts and led them to the platform. The large crowd grew silent.

Suddenly, the captain of the king’s guard waved his hand. “Stop!” he shouted, as he stepped up on the platform. He pointed to Juan. “This man can go free,” he stated. “The man who galloped away from me did not have such ugly whip scars on his back.”

Pedro remembered how his brother, Juan, had taken his place and endured all those painful lashes from the bullwhip. He slowly turned to Juan, who by then had tears in his eyes. He whispered, “Brother, forgive me—I have learned too late and will now pay for all of my lies. But as for you, Juan, it is the truth that has set you free.”

When locked in lies without a key,
Telling the truth will set you free.