The Horsehair Rope (Conclusion)


There is forgiveness with thee (Ps. 130:4).

Young Thad, Orderville’s rope maker, decides to make a strong and beautiful horsehair rope for the town fair. He obtains the raw materials by secretly cutting the manes and tails off Orderville’s horses. The young men of nearby towns are blamed for the act, and there is talk of revenge.

“People sure are upset about the horses’ manes and tails being clipped,” Theo, my twin brother, said one night. “The other towns laugh at us already for our Order clothes that are all alike. Now they’ll probably call our horses broomtails (an untrained horse of inferior quality) because we grow broom straw, and our horses got clipped. We’ll have to get even.”

The next day Brother Spencer asked me, “Was your Uncle Claude over from Kanab last Saturday when the horses got clipped?”

“No,” I told him truthfully. “He was out on Buckskin Mountain moving cattle.” But I could see that innocent people would suffer for my actions unless I did something soon.

That night I asked father, “When does the bishop hold his weekly council meeting?”

“Every Thursday night about seven o’clock,” Dad replied.

Thursday night after dinner, I walked slowly over to the bishop’s home. Extra horses, all with clipped manes and tails, were out front.

I walked quietly up onto the porch. I could hear voices inside but couldn’t understand what they were saying. Fear came over me, and I turned to leave. But I knew that I couldn’t. I had to clear up the wrong I had done in cutting the hair without asking. I knocked on the door. As I waited for someone to answer my knock, the little speech I had practiced for the last two days went through my mind. The bishop’s clerk opened the door. “Come in, Thad.”

The bishop and his counselors and several priesthood leaders and clerks were all sitting around the table in the dining room. The bishop got up and came over to me. “Come in,” he said, shaking my hand. “What can we do for you?”

Without waiting, I gave my prepared explanation. “Brothers, I am the one who cut the manes and tails of the horses at the Saturday dance. I needed the hair to make a special rope to show in the town fair. Since the horses belong to the Order, so does the rope. I didn’t know that everyone would get so upset. I should have asked. I’m sorry.”

“Thank you, Thad, for coming and telling us,” the bishop said. “Is the rope finished?”

“Yes,” I replied. “I finished it tonight.”

“Brother Thad,” the bishop said, “please wait on the porch while we discuss this.”

They talked for a long time. At first I wished I could hear what they were saying. Then I was glad I couldn’t. I was praying silently when they opened the door and asked me to come back in.

I stood first on one foot and then on the other as they seemed to look right through me. Then the bishop spoke. “Thad, what do you think you should do to make amends?”

I had thought about that a lot. “I should confess to the people I wronged and then groom their horses and clean their stables.”

The bishop nodded. “Thad, please bring the rope to sacrament meeting on Sunday and put it on display by the door on a small table so that all the people can see it as they come in. During the business part of the meeting, I will call on you to explain what took place and tell everyone that you are sorry you didn’t ask permission to cut the hair. Then you can ask them to forgive you, Will you do that?”

My heart started beating again. I took a big breath and answered in a squeaky voice, “Yes, bishop.”

“Good night, Thad,” the bishop said. “See you Sunday.”

I felt better about the rope as I walked home. I told my parents what I had done and what the bishop had required. They said, “We will support you, Thad, and we’re proud of you for owning up about this. It shows that you’re growing up.”

On Sunday evening I followed the bishop’s instructions and got to church early. I got a small table and placed it beside the big front doors and put the rope on it. Everyone would see it as they came in.

I was glad when my family came and I could sit between Mom and Dad. Mom held my hand, and Dad put his arm around me. Oh, how I needed their support and love!

People started filling up the rows. There was going to be a big crowd today. I didn’t dare turn to see how people reacted to my rope, but I could hear them talking about it. “Why, it looks just like twisted taffy, except that it changes color!” someone exclaimed.

“Look how neatly the ends are finished,” someone else said. My hard work had paid off. If they only knew how many times I had walked up and down that plank, twisting each strand of hair into twine, and how long it had taken to fill the spools! Now if they would only forgive me.

I watched Sister Chamberlain working hard at the pump organ as she played the prelude music. The bishop and his counselors came to the stand. With them were two men I didn’t know. They looked very official.

As they sat down, they had a whispered discussion with the bishop, who then passed some message on to his counselors. The counselor conducting got up, welcomed everyone, then announced, “Brothers and Sisters, we are honored to have with us Brother Miles Romney, general superintendent for the building of the St. George Temple, and Brother Robert Gardner, who is in charge of obtaining lumber for the temple. They have been sent here on assignment by President Brigham Young. We will hear from them later.”

After the opening song and prayer, the bishop got up to conduct business. I felt sure that I would now be asked to come to the stand, but he only announced the sacrament song and sat down. I looked at the hymnbook but could not sing because of the huge lump in my throat. I wondered if I was worthy to take the sacrament, since I had not yet made my confession. But I had been willing to, so I did take it when it was passed to me.

The counselor then announced that our regular program would be postponed and the meeting turned over to Brother Romney. Brother Romney got up and said, “Dear Saints of the United Order of Orderville. The work on the temple goes forward. The walls have been finished, and the end of our long labors is in sight. Now we ask you to commit men, teams, and wagons to help us transport timber from the mountains so that the interior can be completed.”

I forgot my problem as he went on to tell of the wonderful things they were doing to build the temple. I was glad to be at church to hear them.

Then he said, “Throughout the construction of the temple we have had trouble finding enough strong rope. Now, more than ever, we need it to lift timber and bind heavy logs to the wagons that will carry them from the mountains to the sawmill. We have been praying for a way to make better rope. Today, as we came into the building, our prayers were answered. Would the person responsible for the rope on the table by the door please get it and bring it up here?”

Father helped me up, and Mother gave my hand a squeeze. As I slipped past my brother, his mouth was open and his eyes were big. I got the rope and took it to Brother Romney. He put his arm around me and continued, “I have never seen such a big, smooth, uniform horsehair rope. I understand your name is Thad. Tell me—how long is this rope?”

I could hardly believe what I was hearing. They liked my rope! They needed my rope! I swallowed hard. “One hundred and eight feet,” I replied.

Brother Romney smiled. “That is exactly the length we need. Thad, will you please come over to the bishop’s house early in the morning before we leave and cut the manes and tails off our horses and start on the second rope. We will send out a request to all the communities of southern Utah to collect their horses’ hair and send it to you. This first rope will be sent to Mr. Trumball so that the work of transporting lumber can be hastened. Now, bishop, would you ask the people if they can support the donation of the rope to the building of the temple.”

The bishop stood up and said, “All in favor, please raise your right hand.”

Everyone raised his right arm to the square. I joined them. The bishop said, “The voting is unanimous. The rope is for the temple.” Putting his arm around me, he added, “And now I believe Thad has something to tell you.”

It wasn’t hard at all, because I could see nothing but smiling faces. I explained what I had done and asked for their forgiveness, adding that I would be coming around to groom their horses and clean their stables. The bishop called for a vote on my request, and again every hand went up. With a light heart, I walked back down to sit between Mom and Dad. Tomorrow I’d start on the second rope, and it would be even better. A rope for the town fair could wait till next year. Meanwhile, I’d do my very best to make rope for the temple.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Paul Mann