The next time Alfred saw the Sheriff, the rope weaving was well underway. One team, led by the circus’ head rigger, ran around unlacing tents and removing guys and high wires to feed the braiding teams while leaving the remains of tents and equipment neatly so that the circus could be reassembled with minimum fuss after the crisis.
The braiding looked like an enormous game of team double dutch except with each team holding one of the four ropes as they lept and dodged over and under the other lines. The game ran all down Main Street. A fifth team kept the braided end in place, coiling the completed section, while the sixth made sure the twists lay even and neat so the loop would slide easily. As an accomplished jumper, Alfred led one of the line teams, so he did not have time to stop the Sheriff to chat. Even as he hopped and ducked, some tension leaked out of the rabbit as he recognized the Sheriff’s companion.
The only thing that kept Clint Westlake from being elected town sheriff by general acclamation was the presence of the Moose in their midst. With Clint himself trumpeting Moric’s praises, there could be no thought of hurt feelings when Moric won the badge. As things were, Clint could not be more content than to act as Moric’s Deputy for those times when the Sheriff needed to be in more than one place at the same time.
When Moric did not need the second pair of hands, Clint helped out wherever he could. He even helped out on the Light Rail that passed through town, on occasion. Mostly, or most visibly, Clint made a wonderful clown. His natural green hide came liberally spotted in white. Over this he wore a cherry red outfit with blue accents. He could bumble around among the tumblers doing expert tricks seemingly by accident. He could fall from trapeze to trapeze doing flips and twists while trying to return a dropped cape to the pretty young star. Clint could nap on the high wire, oblivious to the long drop below as he tossed and turned on the narrow surface. If anyone had the agility, competence, and nerve to get Ima safely to the ground and out of the way while Sheriff Moric got the Titan where they wanted it to go, Clint did.
The Sheriff and the Deputy talked earnestly as they walked the length of the work in progress. Near the end, Clint said something no one else could catch. When Moric nodded the two shook hands and the Deputy headed off to fetch his saddled horse from the front of the livery stable. Clint flowed easily into the saddle of the tall grey and rode out of town in the direction of Alfred’s ravaged ranch.
Clint cantered back into town just as they finished tying the loop in the end of the small mountain of neatly coiled lasso. Several riding animals, a wagon or few, and at least one coach had somehow managed to get hitched up and stowed along the street even as everyone worked so hard on the lasso. While most of the population of Funtown went to their conveyance of choice, the Sheriff managed to disappear a coil of rope bigger than he was about his person without so much as a visible bulge.
The Sheriff shifted his hat to the back of his head and looked over the uninvited convoy. He scratched his head and then called out, “Does someone have first aid supplies?” Several of the riders raised a hand.
Before Sheriff Moric could ask another question, the ringmaster urged his blindingly-white gryphon mount forward and called out in the beautiful, deep tones he used nightly to thrill the audiences, “We have food, fuel, and fodder for all in case this undertaking carries us through the night. We will stay where you bid and leave if so ordered, but none of us could ever forgive ourselves if something happened because we were needed and not on hand.”
Clint and Moric exchanged speaking glances. When the last few residents of Funtown, including Ima’s mother, came into view riding the circus’ elephants a smile darted across Clint’s wide mouth and he gave Moric a sharp nod. Quickly the convoy divided into wagons, elephants and other slower moving elements in one group and the swifter riders in the other. Clint’s earlier forray had located the Titan, with girl still aboard, rampaging among a small herd of buffalo. Clint made certain the herd’s owner and family found somewhere safe to be, but even so, there was no time to wait for the slower section of the population. Clint swung Moric up behind the grey’s saddle and they lit out to save the town, save the girl, and generally to save the day in good hero style in spite of the great tail of support they dragged along.