Chapter 1 (Rudolf Rassendyll)
The story unfolds with Rose (Rudolf Rassendyll`s sister-in-law), telling Rassendyll that he needs to get himself a job. Rudolf`s brother (Robert), finds an interesting job for him as an “attaché” to Sir Jacob Borrodaile. Borrodaile will be the Ambassador of Ruritania in six months` time. Ruritania, located in central Europe is the only country, Rudolf has not visited. So, he feels happy with the idea. Rudolf decides to witness the coronation of King Rudolf the Fifth in Strelsau, the capital of Ruritania.
Chapter 2 (Rassendyll Arrive in Zenda)
Rassendyll travels by train from London. The train stops at Paris, where he meets his old friend, George. Rassendyll sees Antoinette de Mauban, a rich widow, who is on her way to Strelsau for the coronation. Rassendyll notices that the customs officer stares at him. He thinks it is because of his hair which looks flaming red. The newspaper reports that the coronation date is postponed. The new date is a day after tomorrow. Strelsau is packed with people and there is no accommodation or lodging available. Rassendyll decides to stop at Zenda, a small town, 50 miles away from the capital. Rassendyll learns about Duke Michael and the King is staying in the Duke`s hunting lodge in Zenda while the Duke is making the necessary coronation arrangement in Strelsau.
Johann, the Duke`s forest guard enters the inn and is astonished to see Rassendyll. Rassendyll learns from the inn keeper`s daughter that the King`s hair is of the exact colour with his. The royal family members of Ruritania have red hair!
Chapter 3 (Rudolf Rassendyll Meets King Rudolf the Fifth)
Rassendyll goes for a walk and gets closer to the famous old castle of Zenda. Rassendyll feels so carefree. He falls asleep after the tiring walk. Rassendyll wakes up to find two men looking at him with deep interest. They are Colonel Sapt and Fritz Von Tarlenheim, who serve the King of Ruritania. Colonel Sapt informs Rassendyll that he resembles the King. The Englishman (Rassendyll) comes face-to-face with the King of Ruritania. Both of them look alike. They have the same physical characteristicsred hair, long nose, blue eyes. They are of the same height too. The only difference between the two is Rassendyll is bearded while the King is cleanshaven. Both Colonel Sapt and Fritz Von Tarlenheim inform that Rassendyll should not go to Strelsau. His life would be in danger if he is seen in Strelsau. The King invites Rassendyll for dinner. Black Michael sends a complimentary bottle of wine and the King drinks it to the last drop.
Chapter 4 (Rassendyll Becomes Rudolf the Fifth)
Colonel Sapt splashes a bucket of water on Rassendyll to wake him up. Rassendyll realize the King is drugged by Black Michael and is senseless. The King is unfit to attend the coronation and Black Michael stands the chance to be crowned as King of Ruritania. Sapt and Fritz convince Rassendyll to take the place of the King and to be crowned.
In the beginning, Rassendyll resists but both Sapt and Fritz coax him into doing it.
Chapter 5 (Rassendyll Arrives in Strelsau to be Crowned)
Rassendyll`s beard is shaved to make him look alike Rudolf the Fifth. Rassendyll puts on the King`s uniform and take the King`s sword and revolver. Rassendyll, Sapt, Fritz ride trough the forest on their horses. Sapt instructs Rassendyll, on how to behave like the King and what to do during the coronation. The board a special carriage at the railway station and heard for Strelsau. They arrive at Strelsau and are welcomed by government and army officials. The crowds cheer the King.
Chapter 6 (Rassendyll is Crowned King Rudolf the Fifth)
The coronation procession begins with bells ringing, bands playing and people cheering. Everyone is in high spirits in the New Town but there is dislike of the King in the Old Town. The people in the Old Town prefer Duke Michael as King. Rassendyll rides alone through the crowd in the Old Town to show...