Two years after the execution of his father (Charles I), 21-year-old Charles II and his men fail miserably to free his kingdom from the tyrannical rule of Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester. The King would rather die trying to restore the monarchy, than sit by and watch the power of the English Commonwealth grown under its corrupt leaders. He decides to disguise himself as a peasant; at his first hiding-place at Boscopel, an estate wherein lived five catholic brothers called Pendrell, the king is dressed in a coarse noggen shirt, with breeches of green coarse cloth and a doeskin leather doublet. Charles is given a pair of patched stockings and a greasy, long, white, steeple-crowned hat to wear, and the King's hair is cut to look like a peasant's, leaving it short on top but long at the sides. The Pendrells quickly teach Charles how to speak with a local accent and how to walk like a labourer. The novel concerns his daring trek, mostly on foot, from Worcester to Trent, whence he sails to France to wait for the right time to return to England and claim his kingdom.