The Belcastle Brand Recap

Bret rides through the desert until his horse dies. He abandons it and walks, and that night comes to a manor house. Piano music is playing inside, and Bret staggers toward the manor, weak from thirst and exposure. He reaches the door and collapses.

Later, Bret wakes up in a bed. Lady Ellen Belcastle is wiping his brow as her father Marquis Norbert Belcastle and his brother Albert Belcastle look on. Ellen explains that he's at Belcastle Cottage in Wyoming. They introduce themselves and Albert says that he's "merely" Albert. Norbert cheerfully goes to get the butler, Benson, to give Bret a shave. Albert follows him, and Ellen explains that Norbert is a royal officer between a duke and an earl. She says that Americans are all independent now, and Bret asks what he calls a lady. Ellen tells him to ring the bell if he wants to "call her" and leaves.

Later after his shave, Bret is enjoying a cigar when Benson comes in with Bret's cleaned clothes. He returns Bret's coat, saying that they found it in his saddlebags. The $1,000 bill in Bret's shirt is missing, and Benson says that he burned his shirt because they were so dirty.

Bret joins the Belcastles at the dinner table, and Norbert talks about how they came to Wyoming for the grass to breed better cattle. Once they get things finally fit, they'll head back to England. Bret explains the origins of his name, and Ellen leaves them to their cigars. Once they're alone, Bret explains about the missing $1,000 bill. Norbert says that they'll put him up, and Bret offers to work for them to earn the money. Surprised, Norbert agrees to find something for him and lights a cigar, but emphatically refuses to offer one to Bret.

Back in his room, Bret has Benson bring him his work clothes and the butler abruptly tells him that the cowhands will find him somewhere to sleep. Once the butler leaves, Bret goes over to the ranch house and puts on his new clothing. The Foreman closes him out and orders him to go to work. Bret is soon breaking a bronc as the other cowhands look on, and the horse throws Bret while Norbert and Ellen look on.

Bret goes about his chores, and Ellen asks him to remove a pebble from her horse's shoe. She says that he's a fright, and Bret explains that he's been working. Ellen figures there's something better suited to his talents, and Bret asks if she plays card. All Ellen plays is whist, and insists that she's an inveterate gambler. Bret uses her belt and her hairpin to play a bar bet. He loses and Bret pays her off.

Later, Bret tells Norbert that he's leaving because he can't afford a grubstake on the salary they're paying him. He admits that he's not cut out to be a cowboy, and Norbert suggests that Bret take a job leading them on a hunting expedition. The expedition soon runs out with several pack horses carrying the Belcastles' things. They head across the desert and the Belcastles set up camp to enjoy tea. Ellen figures that Bret is like a new person, and Bret tells them that his pappy told him to never work for a living.

Nine men ride up to the camp and Norbert offers them tea. The men draw guns and take the Belcastles' things, riding off. Bret explains that the outlaws didn't leave them anything because they don't intend to see them get back to civilization. He identifies them as the Shaughnessys, outlaws on the run. Norbert figures that they can make the ten-mile trip back, and tells his relatives that he's read up on surviving in the desert. Bret suggests that they track the Shaugnessys to their mountain hideout two days away. Norbert disagrees and Bret points out that it's better to take the sure thing. Bret argues with him, warning that they won't make it. Albert and Ellen side with Norbert, Albert saying that Norbert is an eminently sensible man.

The quartet walks through the desert on foot, and Albert asks Bret why he's going with them. Bret says that there's no point in taking out the outlaws on his own, and he doesn't want to abandon the Belcastles. The Belcastles soon run out of steam and sit down when night falls, exhausted. Bret warns that the further they go, the worse it will get. Norbert insists that they press on, and Bret says that Norbert made a stupid decision and the rest of them stick with it. The marquis resents Bret's implication and says that they made a democratic vote, and Bret says that none of them are continuing on. He tells them that they're heading to the mountains at night when it's darker. He declares "martial law" and takes out a pocketknife. Norbert points out that Bret is outnumbered, and Bret says that he'd leave them if he had a chance of making it back alone. However, he needs help to take on the Shaughnessys, and promises that he'll kill one of them to get the other two back. The Belcastles give in and head back to the mountains, and Bret follows them.

As they walk along, Albert tells Bret that the last person who opposed a Belcastle was in 1099 and he didn't survive the experience. They camp for the night, and Norbert sneaks up on Bret and tries to take his knife. Bret stops him and says that he's not giving up the knife, and Norbert yields. Once he leaves, Ellen wakes up and comes over to Bret, and he offers her pebbles to suck on and take her mind off the thirst. Albert concedes that Bret was right, and a rattlesnake slithers out. Bret picks up a rock and kills it, and is soon serving snake meat. The Belcastles refuses to eat it and eventually they give in despite their disgust. Ellen says that she doesn't like it, and Bret tells them that he learned in the Army that they're not required to like it but just eat it.

That night, the group continues walking. Albert suggests that they go back and wait for a second rattlesnake, and Bret tells him to watch out for grizzly bears.

The third day, Bret is surprised that they've made it so far. Ellen approaches Bret and asks if they're going to make it. Bret says that they'll reach the mountains the next day, and Ellen asks if they're being good troops. He says that they are, and Ellen assures him that she's convinced her father not to challenge Bret again. She tells Bret that they're friends and asks him to tell her about his childhood, but Bret says that it's a story for another time.

As the group continue through the third night, they find it harder to sleep. Bret finds a barrel cactus, and they soon eat and drink the meat. He leads them on a faster peace, and he figures that it's their last night in the deserts one way or another. They reach the mountains later that night, and Bret suggests that they rest for five minutes. Norbert asks how Bret plans to get their stores back, and Albert suggests that they fight for them. Ellen kisses Bret before they go, and Norbert figures they've all taken leave of their senses. Albert tells his brother that anyone can be a marquis by being in the right bed. He tells Norbert to fight for his family belongings, and Norbert angrily asks if they're ready to proceed.

Bret goes ahead to recon the place while the Belcastles rest. He finds no sign of a camp and no signs, and Norbert complains that he followed Bret and he led them nowhere. Norbert asks for the knife, and Albert tells him that he's being difficult. Bret refuses and Norbert struggles with him. After easily subduing the older man, Ellen tells Norbert that he's still in the minority. Bret says that they should head north figuring the Shaughnessys would have gone that way. Norbert needs Albert's help to get up.

The group continues through the mountain, and Bret worries that they have no goal. They spot a sentry up on the rocks and when he dozes off, Bret sneaks up on him and takes his rifle. They go after another sentry and try to figure out how to get close enough to him without setting off an alarm. Bret offers to throw a rock at him, and he scores a bullseye, taking out the man.

The quartet finds the outlaw camp nearby and Norbert suggests that they trim the odds a bit by going in silently while the outlaws are asleep. He tells Albert that it's his duty to go but they can't expose the whole Belcastle male line, and Ellen figures that it's up to Bret and Norbert. Norbert leads Bret in, they take the sleeping outlaws' guns. One outlaw sounds the alarm, and they open fire as Bret runs back to the others. Albert opens fire and after killing one outlaw with his gun, Norbert takes cover.

Norbert continues to pick off the outlaws, and Albert opens fire. His brother is hit, and Ellen runs to Bret's hiding place. She asks for Bret's pistol and opens fire, and one by one they take out the outlaws. Once all of the Shaughnessys are down, Bret, Ellen, and Albert go to Norbert. He has a graze on his forehead but is otherwise okay.

The Belcastles prepare to ride back to their home, and Norbert tells Albert that he's a born leader if a bit headstrong. He figures that Bret and Ellen are drawn to each other, and mating them would help the Belcastle bloodline. Albert suggests that they'll work it out for themselves. Meanwhile, Ellen says that they're going to go back to England. Bret figures that she doesn't really like Wyoming, and she figures Norbert will invite him to go with them. Ellen says that England is a wonderful place for the English. Bret agrees, and the group rides back following Bret's lead.

Written by Gadfly on Sep 22, 2019

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