Longren, a closed and unsociable man, lived by making and selling models of sailboats and steamships. The countrymen did not really like the former sailor, especially after one incident.
Somehow during a cruel storm, the shopkeeper and innkeeper Menners was carried away in his boat far into the sea. The only witness to what was happening was Longren. He smoked his pipe calmly, watching the Menners whisper in vain. Only when it became evident that he could not be saved, Longren shouted to him that his Mary also asked the fellow villager for help, but did not receive it.
Shopkeeper on the sixth day picked up a ship among the waves, and he before his death told about the culprit of his death.
He did not tell only about how, five years ago, Longren’s wife asked him to give a little loan. She had just given birth to the baby Assol, the birth was not easy, and almost all of her money was spent on treatment, and her husband had not yet returned from the voyage. Meners advised not to be touchy, then he is ready to help. Unhappy woman in bad weather went to the city to lay the ring, caught a cold and died of pneumonia. So Longren remained a widower with his daughter in his arms and could no longer walk to sea.
Whatever it was, and the news of such a demonstrative inaction of Longren struck the villagers more than if he had drowned a man with his own hands. The hostility turned almost to hatred and also appealed to the innocent Assol, who grew up alone with her fantasies and dreams and as if she did not need any peers or friends. Father replaced her and mother, and girlfriends, and fellow countrymen.
Once, when Assol was eight years old, he sent her to the city with new toys, among which was a miniature yacht with scarlet silk sails. The girl dropped the boat into a creek. The stream carried it and carried it to the mouth, where she saw a stranger holding her boat. It was old Aigle, a collector of legends and fairy tales. He gave the toy Assol and told that the years would pass and the prince would sail along the same ship under scarlet sails and take her to a distant country.
The girl told her father about it. In trouble, the beggar, who accidentally heard her story, heard a rumor about the ship and the overseas prince across Caperna. Now the children shouted after her: “Hey, the hanging-bird, the red sails are swimming!” So she went crazy.
Arthur Gray, the only son of a noble and rich family, grew up not in a hut, but in a family castle, in the atmosphere of the predetermination of every present and future step. This, however, was a boy with a very lively soul, ready to fulfill his own life purpose. He was determined and fearless.
The keeper of their wine cellar Polledishok told him that two barrels of Cromwell’s Alicante were buried in one place and the color of it was darker than cherries, and it was dense like good creams. Barrels are made of ebony, and on them are double copper hoops, on which it is written: “Gray will drink me when he is in paradise”. Nobody tried this wine and tried it. “I’ll drink it,”... Gray said, stomping his foot and squeezing his hand into a fist: “Paradise? He’s here!”
For all that, he was extremely responsive to someone else’s misfortune, and his sympathy was always poured into real help.
In the library of the castle he was struck by the picture of some famous seascape. She helped him to understand himself. Gray secretly left the house and entered the schooner “Anselm”. Captain Gop was a kind man, but a harsh seaman. Evaluating the mind, perseverance and love of the sea of a young sailor, Gop decided to “make a puppy a captain”: acquainted with navigation, maritime law, sailing and accounting. In twenty years, Gray bought a three-masted Galiot “The Secret” and swam it for four years. Fate led him to Liss, one and a half hours’ walk from which was Caperna.
With the onset of darkness, along with the sailor Letica Gray, taking the fishing rod, sailed on the boat in search of a suitable place for fishing. Under the cliff at Caperna they left the boat and lit a fire. Letica went to fish, and Gray lay down by the fire. In the morning he went to wander, when suddenly in the thickets I saw Sleeping Assol. He looked at the girl who had struck him for a long time, and when he was leaving, he removed an old ring from his finger and put it on her little finger.
Then they went to the tavern Menners, where the young Hin Menners was now in charge. He told us that Assol was crazy, dreaming of a prince and a ship with scarlet sails, that her father was the culprit for the death of the older Menners and a terrible man. Doubts about the veracity of this information intensified when a drunken coalman assured that the innkeeper was lying. Gray, and without help, had time to understand something about this extraordinary girl. She knew life within her experience, but she also saw in the phenomena a sense of a different order, making many delicate discoveries, incomprehensible and unnecessary to the inhabitants of Caperna.
The captain in many ways was himself the same, a bit not of this world. He went to Liss and found a scarlet silk in one of the shops. In the city, he met an old acquaintance – a traveling musician Zimmer – and asked him to come to the “Secret” in the evening with his orchestra.
Scarlet sails led to confusion command, as well as the order to move forward to Caperna. Nevertheless, in the morning “The Secret” came out under scarlet sails and by noon already meant Caperna.
Assol was shocked by the spectacle of a white ship with scarlet sails, from the deck of which music poured. She rushed to the sea, where the inhabitants of Caperna had already gathered. When Assol appeared, everyone was silent and parted. From the ship broke the boat, in which Gray stood, and headed for the shore. After a while Assol was already in the cabin. Everything happened as the old man had predicted.
The same day, they opened a barrel of 100-year-old wine, which no one had ever drunk before, and the ship was already far from Caperna in the morning, carrying the crew, crushed by the unusual wine of Gray. Zimmer did not sleep. He played quietly on his cello and thought about happiness.