J. Aubrey Whitford is a natural-born con man, so when he finds himself stranded in the wilds of Texas his first instinct is to figure out a way to fleece the citizens of that rugged frontier. He doesn't know that his efforts will soon land him in a dangerous game involving outlaws, Indians, and the U.S. Cavalry, with his only way to survive—and maybe even profit—being a perilous masquerade as a visiting British nobleman.
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS, J. AUBREY WHITFORD is a rollicking comedy adventure with darker edges from one of the master storytellers of the Old West, award-winning author Frank Roderus. See why Roderus is one of today's best-selling Western writers in this classic novel now available again from the Western Fictioneers Library.
ESMERALDAVILLE, Texas. The name was about two syllables bigger than the town. A poor stage for a player of substance. Still and all, if Esmeraldaville was all one had, why then, Esmeraldaville was the clay one would mold to meet one's need.
J. Aubrey Whitford firmed his jaw and adopted his best and most dignified mien.
He was, he acknowledged, at considerably less than his best.
Very much the fault of the miserable beast, eh? Horseback. Such a crude form of transportation.
But then this was Texas. What could one expect? Even in this modern era, this Year of Our Lord 18 and 52, Texas and Texans had managed to mire themselves in the past. No railroads. An uncertain post. No scheduled coach service to speak of. Why, these people built their houses of mud, for heaven's sake. It was all quite drearily uncivilized.
Yet it was what one was required to work with.
J. Aubrey sniffed loudly, almost lost his balance for a moment there and had to grab for the vertically emplaced knob thing that was conveniently mounted on the front of his saddle. Damn, but he did despise horses. Perching atop them, that is. It was acceptable to ride in a properly sprung vehicle behind them.
But to try to balance oneself on a horse's narrow, bouncing back? That was more than uncomfortable. It was dangerous. One could fall. And it was a long way down.
J. Aubrey Whitford might make many claims—some of them actually valid—but equestrian eptitude was a boast he would never proclaim. "Walk, horse, waaalk."
He bounced, jigged and wriggled, struggling all the while to maintain a position more or less in the middle of the vile beast. His point at the moment was to avoid the fall he dreaded.
Still and all...
A man does what a man must do. Homespun hooey to be sure, but in this case true.
J. Aubrey Whitford was, after all, a man on a mission. If that meant he had to ride a horse, then a horse he would ride.
He squared his shoulders. Lifted his chin. Hoped his collar had not begun yet to wilt. He would have reached up to finger it and make sure but that would have involved letting go of his grip on the saddle knob thing.
He wanted to present himself at his best to the townspeople of Esmeraldaville, Texas.
And please, please, please he would not fall off the damned horse while doing so.
"I'm coming, Grace. I'm coming," he muttered softly to reinforce his resolve.
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