The Republican Government of Evallonia is failing, and there is a throne waiting for someone. But there are two claimants, and each one is so strong that the kingdom hangs in the balance. The Glasgow gang known as the Gorbals Die-hards cannot resist the temptation to get involved in such a tantalising situation. One by one they turn up where the danger appears keenest, ostensibly for the most peaceable reasons. But they are soon plotting and scheming as deeply as the citizens of Evallonia. Jaikie Galt is lured into the plot by Randal Glynde (who steps in at an upper window one night from the back of an elephant). Dickson McCunn, the middle-aged grocer, impersonates an archduke, wearing the purple as if born to it, and of course Archie Roylance and Dougal are there too.
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