In the haciendas of 1851 New Mexico--the servile servants and paternalistic patrons that are gone with the wind. Eleven-year-old Lala, of French and Spanish ancestry, hopes her father will give her the newborn foal--if Indian Chief Canuto doesn't steal it. Lala and playmaid Pita (who is being taught to love her) frolic through feast days as the Patrona, walking with dignity, casts her benevolent shadow on the jaunty Mexican-Indian household. The Patrona's sister returns from Washington and coaches Lala in American traditions: equality means she herself must deliver the gift doll to Little Yellow Braids and not expect her groom boy to do it. Receiving the foal on her birthday, she departs with aunt and uncle for a short trip, then finds the burned caravan of Susan (Braids) and family. Canuto offers to trade the captive girl for that inexplicably prized horse, and Lala. . . hesitates. With strains of ""O Susannah"" going through her head (and a mental pat on the back) she goes American and makes the exchange. Scarlett O'Hara knew she fell short of her mother as a ""lady""; Lala accepts her superior status, never suspecting the fragility of her dominance, and the absence of any sign of dissatisfaction among the lowly is hardly credible.