Two brothers were born on the same day, in the same hour, so alike that only their mother could tell them apart. When they were christened, their mother took a medallion which she had always worn around her own neck, and broke it in half, and placed half around each of the boys’ necks, with their names engraved on them, Bryn and Bron.
As they grew to be young men, Bryn was happier and better at his work so he became richer than Bron, and he could afford to be more generous so he was more beloved than his brother. Bron’s heart began to turn against his brother. He decided that if he could not be as good or as loved as Bryn was, he would no longer try to be good or loved. He would be wicked and lazy and selfish, and so he was.
He ran away from home, taking a horse and all the money he could carry. When he reached a deserted place, he gathered a band of other wicked men around him, and together they set about robbing travellers and stealing whatever they could find. When there were no travellers or rich men to steal from, they took the very meat and bread from the tables of the poor.
One day Bron and his men saw a rich carriage approaching. They stopped the carriage, and Bron drew his sword to rob whoever should be inside. When he pulled open the carriage door, there was only one person inside, a beautiful young woman with hair the colour of the sky at midnight and eyes like shining blue sapphires.
As Bron gazed at the girl, his heart stopped within him. The girl gazed back at him and began to smile. The next moment one of Bron’s henchmen jostled his sword-arm. The tip of his sword slid forward and entered the girl’s heart. She gave a cry and fell back, her life’s blood pouring from the wound in her heart.
Bron gave an anguished cry and threw his sword to the ground. “Go!” he shouted at his men. “Of all the wicked things we have ever done, this is by far the worst. We will do no more! Go!”
His men scattered and disappeared. An instant later, Bron was surrounded by soldiers, who chained his hands and his feet and dragged him away. When they reached the city, they threw him into prison to wait for his trial. Bron made not the slightest protest because his heart was so weighed down by what he had done.
Far away, in the house where the brothers had grown up, Bryn noticed that the medallion that he had worn every day since his christening was dull and tarnished.
“Saddle my horse,” he said to his servants. “My brother Bron is in some deep trouble. I must go to him at once.”
He rode for a day and a night without stopping except to water and rest his horse. Towards morning, his horse stumbled and Bryn was thrown to the ground. He hit his head on a rock, and lay there as if he was dead. Some hours later, some travellers found him and carried him to the nearest farmhouse, and left him there in the care of a farmer and his daughter, Alice.
His brother, Bron, lying in prison, noticed that the medallion that he wore around his neck had suddenly become blackened over with tarnish. He leapt to his feet and shouted for the jailer. “Let me out!” he yelled. “My brother is close to death and I must go to him!”
The jailer merely laughed at him. “You’ll only be let out when it pleases the judge to sentence you to death,” he said.
Bron was filled with so much fear for his brother, he could not rest even for a moment. He whistled for his horse, and then using every ounce of his strength he broke through the bars of his prison and escaped. Riding faster than he had ever ridden in his life, he reached the farmhouse where his brother was lying close to death. Bron rushed to his side and lifted him up into his arms. “If I could die in your place, I would gladly give my life!” he said. “You are all goodness and kindness, and I am nothing but wickedness!”
At this Bryn opened his eyes. “I was afraid I would never see you again!” he gasped. “Forgive me, for in my pride I have always seen myself as better than you, and I never did anything to try to help you.”
The two brothers wept and embraced each other, and forgave each other from their hearts. With Bron helping to care for him, Bryn gradually recovered. When he was well again, Bron said to him, “I must go back to answer for the evil I have done,” but Bryn would not let him go alone. As soon as Bryn was well enough to travel, the two brothers went back to the city together. Bron gave himself up and was thrown into prison again. The next day he was brought before the judge.
The judge said, “Do you know why you have been brought before me?”
Hanging his head in deep shame, Bron said, “I am guilty of many wicked things, but the worst thing by far was taking the life of a beautiful, innocent young girl.”
Bryn stepped forward and said, “I share the blame for the wrong he has done, because I knew what he was doing and did nothing to try to stop him.” He put his hand on Bron’s shoulder, and they stood side by side.
The judge nodded thoughtfully, and said, “I order you both to pay half of all you own to the poor that Bron has robbed. Furthermore, Bron must spend a year and a day in prison.
“As for your worst act of wickedness,” the judge went on, “there is nothing to be paid, for the girl did not die as you thought, but is alive and well.” The door to the courtroom opened, and Bron saw the girl that he loved, full of life and health.
“How can this be?” he said, laughing for sheer happiness.
The girl, whose name was Alicia, said, “Luckily the wound to my heart was only slight, and I soon recovered.” She put her hand in Bron’s, and it was clear to everyone that they loved each other.
Bron gladly spent a year and a day in prison, where Alicia visited him every day. When he was released, they were married, and they went to live with Bryn, who had married Alice, the farmer’s daughter who had cared for him when he was hurt. And the four of them lived in harmony and happiness for the rest of their lives.
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