At the winter quarters, Joey and Corky watch as Ned Bailey does a clown routine avoiding a lion using a tightrope. He runs out of the cage and Tim says that it's a great idea and they'll have it ready by the time they go back on the road. Joey admits that he hasn't seen Ned in a long time ago and didn't know that he was so good. Corky names Ned Fuzzy the Zany Clown, and Tim agrees to take Ned on.
A worker runs up and says that Pete is having trouble with a water buffalo caught in the swamp. Everyone goes to help and Tim has Corky use Bimbo to assist as well. Tim tells Pete that he shouldn't have put a fence around the quicksand like he said, and Pete says that he'll get to it.
Back at the winter quarters, Joey tells Corky that he'd be glad if Ned finally got a big break. He explains that Ned's wife died three years ago. Three days after they were married, Ned fell off the high wire and couldn't walk for months, but he always faced up to the consequences of what he had done.
Ned is in his quarters putting money in an envelope. Joey and Corky arrive to take Ned into town for sodas, and Tim asks Ned to drop off the mail bag. Ned adds his letter to the bag and they ride into town. He says that his wife Madeline taught him how to speak French, and Joey quickly interrupts Corky before the boy can say that Joey mentioned Madeline died. Ned goes to the post office to drop off the mail, and once he leaves the clerk gives the mail to a waiting Pinkerton detective, Nolan. Nolan takes out Ned's letter and says that it's the same handwriting and the same address. He tells the clerk that they didn't know where to look for Ned until a week ago, and tells the clerk to send the letter through. When the clerk wonders what Ned did, Nolan say that he robbed a bank.
Later, Nolan meets with Tim and says that he's looking for one of Tim's people. The detective explains that the robber escaped from an Omaha bank two years ago with $2,000. Nolan has Tim write out the address from the letter and then says that he's not his men. He asks if Tim has seen the writing on the letter, and explains that the thief has been sending money back to the bank, $50 or $75 at a time. Despite that, the robber is wanted and Nolan intends to bring him in. He explains that each of the letters to the bank came from a town that the circus played in at the same time.
Tim takes Nolan around to check the workers. They haven't talked to Corky, Joey, Ned, or Pete yet. Joey, Corky, and Ned arrive and Corky explains the new routine that he's prepared for Ned. Nolan has the men go with him to Tim's office, and Tim sends Corky to get Pete. In the office, Nolan has Joey write the address out. As Nolan tells Ned to do it, Pete comes in and Tim has him write. Pete admits that he can't write and leaves, and Nolan tells Ned to do it. Once Ned is done, Nolan looks at the writing for a long moment but then says that he doesn't have any questions. Tim explains that Nolan thinks that they have a bank robber hiding in the circus. Once Ned leaves, Nolan tells Tim that he's going to stick around until he finds his men.
Later, Joey checks on Ned and points out that Ned changed to his left hand when he wrote the address for Nolan. He warns that Nolan will stay after Ned, and asks why he did it. Ned explains that he robbed the bank to get money to pay for Madeleine's operation. The operation didn't help and she died without ever knowing what he did. After that Ned ran away to forget, and he joined the circus. Since then Ned has been repaying his debt by sending his money back a little at a time. Joey wonders what he's going to do, and Ned says that he's going on the run. His friend says that he has a chance for a new life, and advises Ned to give himself up and then he can come back to the circus. Ned refuses to let them put him in prison, and Joey makes him promise not to do anything until he thinks it over. He'll come back in an hour to see what Ned has decided. Once he's alone, Ned starts writing.
Corky is singing to Bimbo when Joey comes and says that the boy has lessons to do. He agrees to let Corky see Ned and cheer him up. Corky goes to Ned's quarters and Ned, leaving, quickly hides. The boy goes inside and finds Ned's note, while Ned leaves the winter quarters in the direction of the swamp. Corky runs after him and Nolan finds him. He takes the note and confirms that it's the same handwriting as the robber. Corky insists that Ned is a good man, but Nolan insists that it's his job and runs after Ned while Corky follows the detective.
Ned crosses a fallen tree near the quicksand, and Nolan shoots at him and misses. When Nolan follows him, he slips and falls into the quicksand. He tells Corky to get him some help, and Corky goes after Ned. Corky finds Ned and asks for his help, but Ned says that Nolan wants to throw him into jail. The boy begs him to save Nolan, saying that Joey told him that Ned never ran away. After a moment, Ned goes back with Corky and ties together their coats to use as a rope to pull Nolan out.
Later back at the winter quarters, Nolan admits that he'd let Ned go if it was up to him. He'd be willing to turn in his badge if it would help Ned, but Pinkerton would just send another man. The detective says that he'll try to get Ned a suspended sentence, and figures that the court might appoint someone to give Ned a job. Tim immediately agrees and tells Ned that they'll be waiting for him and his new act when he comes back. Once Ned and Nolan leave, Joey assures Corky that Ned will be back.
Written by Gadfly on Jun 6, 2017