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Colonel Kate’s Protegee
by [?]

“Colonel Kate,” as both the Select and the Unassorted of Santa Fe society were accustomed to speak of Mrs. Harrison Winthrop Coolidge, had long ago proved her right to do whatever she chose, by always accomplishing whatever she attempted. She had done so many startling things, and always with such dashing success, since Governor Coolidge had brought her, a bride, to the old town, that people had become accustomed to her, just as they had grown used to the climate, and expected her deeds of daring as unthinkingly as they did cool breezes in summer, or sunshine in winter. Besides, everybody liked her; for she had both the charm which makes new friends and the tact which holds them loyal.

When, finally, Colonel Kate brought an Indian girl from the pueblo of Acoma and made it known that she intended her protegee to grace the innermost circles of Santa Fe society, it is possible that some of the Select may have shrugged their shoulders a trifle; but, if they did, they were careful to have no witnesses. For Governor Coolidge was the richest, the most influential, and the most prominent American in New Mexico, and his wife could make and unmake social circles as she chose. The Santa Fe Blast, which was the organ of the Governor’s party, announced the event as follows:

“Mrs. Governor Coolidge and guests returned yesterday from a trip to Acoma. As always, Mrs. Coolidge was the life of the party and charmed all by her wit and beauty and vivacity. . . . She even persuaded old Ambrosio, the grizzled civil chief of the pueblo, to entrust to her care his most precious treasure, his lovely and charming daughter, Miss Barbara Koitza. This beautiful and talented young lady, whom Mrs. Coolidge has installed as a friend and guest in her hospitable and interesting home, where she is soon to be introduced to Santa Fe society, is as cultured as she is handsome. She has spent a year in the Indian school at Albuquerque and two years at Carlyle, and is well fitted to adorn the choicest social circles in the land. She will no doubt be warmly welcomed by Santa Fe society and will at once take that position in its midst to which her beauty, grace, and talents entitle her.”

If she had known of it, poor little Barbara would have been overwhelmed by this flourish of trumpets. But Colonel Kate did not allow it to fall under her eye. And the girl did not even know that, whatever she was not, she certainly was interesting and picturesque on the day when she first entered her new friend’s door.

She wore her Indian costume, and was neat and clean as any white maiden with a heritage of bath-tubs. Spotlessly white were her buckskin moccasins and leggings, which encased a pair of tiny feet and then wound round and round her sturdy legs until they looked as shapeless as telegraph posts. Her scant, red calico skirt met her leggings at the knee; and her red mantle, of Navajo weave, fell back from her head, but wrapped closely her waist and arms, and then dropped long ends down the front of her dress. Her coal-black hair, heavy and shining, was combed smoothly back from her forehead and fastened in a chongo behind. Her brown face was handsomer than that of most Indian maidens, being longer in proportion to its width than is the pueblo type, the cheek bones less prominent, the forehead broader, and the lips fuller and more delicately chiselled. It is possible that, far back in Barbara’s ancestry, perhaps even as far back as the times of the Conquistadores, there had been some admixture of the white man’s race which, after generations of quiescence, in her had at last made its influence felt again.