The High Chaparral

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Third Season
Plot and Character Highlights

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William Sylvester as Lafe Croswell
"The Little Thieves"

Jo Ann Harris and Heather Menzies 
as Annie and Bet

Buck and Mano discover their horses 
have been stolen - again

3.66  The Little Thieves           Buck, Mano
Victimized by two amateur but charming teen-aged cattle rustlers, Buck and Manolito make the mistake of trying to reform them.
Written by D. C. Fontana         Directed by Phil Rawlins

Story Line:  Intent on impressing her outlaw father, Annie Croswell and her friend Bet Roberts steal the horses of Buck and Manolito. Easily tracked and captured by their victims, the two teen-teenagers are given a second chance by being brought to the Cannon Ranch, where it is hoped they can be dissuaded from following the footsteps of Annie's father.

Guest Stars: 

Jo Ann Harris 
as Annie Croswell

Heather Menzies 
as Bet Roberts

William Sylvester 
as Lafe Croswell

William Vint 
as Cleve

Alan Vint 
as Tim

Don Melvin 
as Hendricks

Dick Haynes 
as Sheriff Towers

John McKee 
as Wilson

Character Highlights: A mostly light-hearted episode where Buck and Mano end up trying to reform two amateur horse thieves after they steal Rebel and Mackadoo out from under their noses at the cantina.  In this case, instead of Buck being the gullible soft-hearted one, it is Mano who convinces Buck that they should take them in at the ranch. Victoria as usual takes on the task of transforming the wayward girls into young ladies and dressing them in her extra clothes.  After they steal Rebel and Mackadoo again Mano says to Buck, "You know, they are becoming quite accomplished horse thieves but I wish they would find someone else to practice on." When they learn that the girls have been involved in more serious crimes and Buck tells Mano that pulling jail breaks and shooting lawmen doesn't sound like the kind of thing they'd do, Mano replies, "Maybe they're branching out." The two girls give good performances as does Annie's father who behaves honorably in the end and turns them over to Buck who he knows will find a better life for them than what he can offer. Viewers may recognize Heather Menzies, who played Bet, from the Sound of Music where she played Louisa, one of the Von Trapp children. 

Complete Episode Synopsis:  Buck and Mano ride to Tubac to get Rebel re-shod. They stop first at the cantina, instead of riding directly to the livery stable, and while inside, both of their horses get stolen. Unable to believe it, they rent a couple of nags and are soon in hot pursuit. The two horse thieves turn out to be two young girls, who are stealing horses for the first time. One of the girls, Annie, is the daughter of a notorious thief, and Beth is her orphaned friend. The two girls ride back to the outlaw camp, where Annie's father reads them the riot act for going out on their own without his permission. He is not against them stealing, he just wants to be the one calling the shots.

In somewhat of a huff, the two girls decide to take their stolen horses and go riding. They are spotted by Buck and Mano, who have been trailing Rebel, since the horse had one bad shoe and his tracks were easiest to follow. The two men give chase to the two girls and finally manage to snag them. They are astounded to discover the horse thieves are two teenage girls. When Mano points out that the girls would be placed in a foundling home if taken back to Tubac, Buck reluctantly agrees to take them back to the ranch, but only until a suitable home can be found for them.

At the ranch, Victoria dresses the girls as young ladies, and Elizabeth quite likes it. To a lesser degree Annie does, also, but Annie doesn't give up hope of returning to her father. The two girls learn to dance, and when Victoria runs Mano out of his room, they get to sleep in a bed for the first time. The next morning, John pens a letter to an aunt and uncle of Elizabeth's in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and Buck can't wait to get the letter mailed. He says he likes the two girls just fine, but he considers them ornery and a lot of trouble. The girls eavesdrop on this conversation, and Annie decides she wants to leave. They make plans to steal out after dark.

At the outlaw camp, the two Parker brothers, Cleve and Tim, decide they want to rob the Tucson bank. Lafe Croswell does not agree, and the two brothers leave in a huff. They go to Tubac, instead, and Tim gets himself arrested trying to steal a horse. Cleve Parker returns to the outlaw camp, wanting help to break his brother out of jail. He is refused. He sets off by himself, apparently planning some scheme to do it alone, when he runs into Annie and Beth on Rebel and Mackadoo, returning from the Cannon ranch. He cons them into helping him break his brother out of jail. During the jailbreak, Sheriff Towers is shot in the arm.

The next morning, Buck and Mano are once again chasing their stolen horses. They go to the outlaw camp and take Lafe Croswell with them with the idea of Croswell setting the girls free. It works only too well. When they all meet up, Croswell tells the girls that he really doesn't want them with him any longer, but it is also obvious that he cares very deeply for their welfare. He turns them over to Buck. Both girls are hurt and disappointed, but they accept their fate. A few days later, they are both on their way back east to become part of Elizabeth's aunt and uncle's family.  (Synopsis by Sandy Sturdivant)

Much of this material, including the Story Line descriptions, comes from The High Chaparral Press Kit released in 1971. The Character Highlights were written by Charlotte Lehan.  The Episode Synopses were written by members of the HC Discussion Group and are attributed at the end of each one.
Especially good portrayals of these characters

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