I’ve read several sequels to Graustark already, but never the original book. There’ll be nods here and there to previous novels but no real continuing story, so what order you read them in is of little consequence.
Grenfall Lorry, the son of a prosperous lawyer, has just completed his tour of the world and is on his way back to Washington. On the train, he meets a Miss Guggenslocker, traveling with her aunt and uncle, and falls instantly in love. Miss Guggenslocker, too, finds in Lorry her ideal image of an American. She’s just finished a tour of the US and is returning to her native Graustark, an impossibly tiny principality tucked away somewhere in eastern Europe. She says she hopes she’ll meet him there someday, little expecting that someday will be a couple weeks later.
Lorry — along with his friend Harry Anguish, who he picked up in Paris — eventually track down where this Graustark place is, and there, they discover that Miss Guggenslocker is none other than Princess Yetive, the country’s ruler. Graustark is heavily in debt to Axphain, their northern neighbor. Prince Lorenz of Axphain and Prince Gabriel of rich Dawsbergen to the south hope to exploit this in a bid to marry Yetive. She accepts Lorenz’s proposal, but after hearing him insult the princess, Lorry challenges him to a duel. Before the day appointed arrives, however, Lorenz is found stabbed to death in his bed.
Lorry is accused of the crime. Yetive effects his escape from prison and hides him in a monastery in the mountains. Lorenz’s father arrives and makes a new offer: Graustark will have another ten years to repay their debt if the murderer of his son is captured. Lorry hears of this decides to give himself up, trusting that his innocence of the crime will win out. Anguish has an ace up his sleeve: at the assembly in the throne room, where Yetive is to give her answer, he accuses Gabriel of murdering Lorenz, and Gabriel’s reaction at once confirms its truth. Gabriel is arrested. Axphain’s condition met, the deadline is extended for another ten years.
There still remains between Yetive and Lorry an insurmountable barrier, though, in that one is of royal blood and the other a commoner. There’s no precedent for such a marriage in the history of Graustark. Yetive gives her ministers an ultimatum: if that can’t be overcome, then she’ll abdicate and bring an end to the centuries long dynasty. And it very quickly is overcome after that.
Inscriptions: Signed L.H. Cottle on the front end paper.