“Well, I tell you, that Pard Huff was sure mad when he found out we-all had been running a blaze on him! I don’t know as I blame him much, for that ten-mile run of his to Separ in his sock feet over cactus and stones was n’t much of a joke, a-tall. But he was an all-fireder fool tenderfoot than we s’posed, or we would n’t have done it.”
Mrs. Harrison Winthrop Coolidge had long been the recognized leader of Santa Fe society. Her husband, who had twice been Governor of New Mexico (this was long before the Territory had put on the garment of Statehood), was the best known and most esteemed man in the Southwest. He was rich, energetic, capable, and popular, and he came of the family of the Massachusetts Coolidges; while his wife, who was just as capable and as popular as he, sprang from the Adams family of the same State. But, notwithstanding all this, to the Unassorted of Santa Fe society she was always “Colonel Kate”; and the Select themselves, in moments of sprightly intimacy, would sometimes refer to her or even address her by that sobriquet.
The occasional new resident and the frequent health-seeker were sure to hear of Colonel Kate before they had spent more than a day or two in the ancient city; and if they had come from the strait-laced East they were likely to be much scandalized when they learned the identity of the lady spoken of thus disrespectfully, and would at once want to know how and why such things could be. Then they would be told that the shocking appellation was only a good-natured and admiring recognition of Mrs. Coolidge’s general efficiency. For it was the universal opinion in Santa Fe that Colonel Kate would always accomplish whatever she started out to do, and that nobody ever could guess what she would start out to do next.
All this was quite true, but it was also true that the Governor’s wife had won her military title by the especial daring and efficiency which she had once displayed on a particular occasion. The facts in the case are known only to some three or four people who have always kept them very quiet. It happened, however, when I asked for information about Mrs. Coolidge’s nickname, that the man with whom I was talking was the very one who had first bestowed it upon her, and he told me the secret truth about it. Mrs. Coolidge had no stancher friend than he, nor any who regarded her with greater respect and admiration, but he rarely spoke of her or addressed her by any other name than “Colonel Kate.”