Once upon a time there was a proud sailor named Longren. He had been sailing on the mighty ship called,"Orion", on and off for ten years, frequently passing by the small fishing village Caperna, his home. There he had a beautiful wife named Mary. On Longren's most recent journey, out into the turbulent world of the open sea, Longren told Mary that he would return in less than six months time. This rare schedule was to be kept because Mary was with child. Longren was not one to miss the birth of his child.
Time passed quickly for Mary and the money she was left passed even quicker. It had been almost five months and Longren had not returned. Nature had its own schedule and the baby girl was born. An extremely difficult delivery left Mary brutally ill. She had to spend all the money, even losing some, on food and medicine to take care of herself and the baby, which remained nameless. Mary even had to pawn her wedding ring in order to survive. One night, on her way to the neighboring town of Lisse to hopefully secure a loan, Mary got stuck walking in a chilling down pour of icy rain. Her subsequent illness caused an untimely death, leaving a neighboring widow to take care of the baby girl.
A month later Longren returned. As his ship pulled in he looked across the rooftops searching for his beautiful Mary. Longren noticed a woman running towards the shoreline. He then noticed it was not Mary. The widow did not speak many words before Longren interrupted her and asked, "How did Mary die?" The widow introduced Longren to his baby girl, which he named Asole.
When Asole was five a terrible season of Northern wind put a halt to all fishing prospects of the village. An incident changed everything for Asole and her father. Longren, who was now making toys as method of career, was down at the pier watching the violent winds inflict there pain upon the various craft. The shopkeeper named Manners ran down to the docks in hope of saving his battered vessel. Manners was now trapped in the current being pulled out to sea. He begged for Longren, who had been watching the entire time, to throw him the nearest rope. Almost out of sounds reach Longren replied as if he were a judge observing trial unfold and said, "Remember Manners! Remember that she asked for help too! Remember this all!" It was Manners who would not let Mary have a loan in time of need. It was Manners that let her walk to Lisse in the dreadful rains. It was Manners that Longren would never save.
The town gossip and storyline became more an more animal. Asole and her father were forced into seclusion, frequently tormented by young and old, because of that incident that happened on the pier. There could be no forgiveness.
Asole would often bring the toys that her father made to the town of Lisse, a few miles away, in exchange for money or supplies. Longren would only let her travel alone on the most perfect of sun splendid afternoons where danger would not fester. One day Asole stopped for a snack and peaked at some of the new toys her father had crafted. A model ship with passionate scarlet sails took her back like never before. She decided to place the boat into the stream for brief play. Unfortunately a stiff breeze overcame the toy vessel and sent it cascading down the stream which now seemed like a roaring river. Asole chased after the boat for nearly an hour, stumbling and tripping wildly as she went. The frustration was eating away at her creating unbearable fatigue. Finally, she saw that the stream and the forest was beginning to open up into the landscape where she could see the ocean. The stream poured down bluff of cliff onto the sandy shore below. When Asole got to the edge of the bluff she noticed an older man with the tiny ship in his hands , studying it carefully on the edge of a large stone. Asole demanded the toy sternly. The man informed her that he was Egl, the master of all sorcerers. The two chatted quietly for several moments. Asole couldn't believe that her new companion knew so much about her. Egl told her that when she was older that a handsome Prince would come sailing into Caperna in full majesty. His ship would be draped in scarlet sails. Egl also told her that the prince would take her far away from the troubles of her life, and that love would be her true reward.
On the other side of the world there lived a young boy named Arthur Grey. Living between castle walls, Grey had little worry. Pre-determined lot in life, noble through and through. His death would even have to be a worthy one so that he may be framed someday in holy portrait. But Grey had what few others in his shoes had, his own mind. Grey was floundering around the depths of the castle one day when he was told a story about some buried barrels of wine that were destined to be drank by a Grey in paradise. Young Arthur exclaimed that someday it would be him who drank. Grey became fascinated with the sea and at fifteen ran away to join a merchant vessel. Grey was a quick study. A mere year had passed and the captain was so impressed with Grey's ability that he taught him the ways of true seamanship. Soon Grey was a captain himself. Ten years later he returned to his castle home to learn of the death of his father and make peace with his mother, she recognized Grey only as the boy that once was. Grey purchased a majestic ship named, "The Secret", which he'd sale for four more years before coming to the port of Lisse.
While traveling through Lisse and of coarse Caperna, Grey and a shipmate were on a walk through the woods when they stumbled upon a girl sleeping in the grass. Grey was amazed by the power of her sleeping eyes. Everything in him began to smile. As not to disturb her sleep Grey and the shipmate sneak away to town to find out who this mysterious girl was. The son of Manners tells them how she is a half-wit that now goes by the name of "Sailing Ship Asole" because of her delusions. Grey is still intrigued. Upon her wake Asole was startled to find a ring placed upon her finger. It was this, sightless and silent meeting, when Asole and Grey first met.
Young Arthur Grey began to inquire about material, silk material. In one of the shops he saw the scarlet shade he was looking for and purchased a bit. Two thousand yards of it! Grey also found musicians that he had taken a fancy to on his first trip to Lisse and hired them to form an orchestra. A feast for the senses was being created.
Longren's toy enterprise dwindled quickly and so he set out for sea. He told Asole that he would be back in ten days time. Asole was now pretty dillusional. Her dreams were all she had and she would often wander with little purpose or direction. She was lost in her own mind.
Meanwhile on The Secret a new feeling was brewing. The sailors were suddenly feeling a motion of happiness deep inside that they could not explain. Smiles were abound. Grey had decided to finally raise the Scarlet Sails. One of his musicians headed out on deck and began to play. The banner of love was in the wind. On the shores of Caperna a hunter was the first to rub his eyes at the amazing sight. For he too had heard the years of tales. Asole was alone, playing with a beetle on the window sill of her bedroom when she first thought that she heard a strange sound.
Asole trembled at first and then jumped up in excitement. Not remembering how she had left the house, Asole ran toward the sea. At the first comer she stopped,almost too weak to go on. Her legs seemed like putty. Afraid she might faint, she stamped her feet and recovered her balance. At times the scarlet sails were hidden by a rooftop or a fence, and fearing they would disappear completely like a mirage, she hastened on, and only when she again saw the ship did she stop to catch her breath.
Caperna was in shock! Could this image be real? Soon a crowd formed at the water's edge. Into this mob Asole ran headlong.Before she arrived, her name was bandied about by the malicious, grim, and nervous crowd. A skiff full of sunburned oarsmen left the ship and moved toward the shore. Among them stood erect that person whom, it seemed to her now, she had known and vaguely remembered from her childhood. He looked at her with a smile which warmed her and urged her on. And Asole, forgetting her fears, mistakes, misunderstandings, unknown obstacles, ran out up to her waist into the warm cradle of the waves.
Grey bent down and she grasped him by the waist. She blinked, opened her eyes, and smiling, breathless, exclaimed, "You're just as I hoped!" "And so are you, my little one!" cried Grey, pulling his Asole out of the water. "You see, I have come. Did you recognize me?" She nodded. She held onto his waist, still blinking and trembling. When Asole at last could look about her, the rocking skiff, the glistening waves, the powerful approaching side of The Secret, seemed like a dream in which light and water played a game of reflections on a wall streaming with sunbeams.
Once more Asole closed her eyes, fearing that if she kept them open everything would disappear. Grey took her arms, and knowing now where she could find safety, she hid her face, wet with tears, on his chest. Carefully, but with a smile, shaken himself by the fact that the precious moment had arrived. Grey raised the long-dreamed-of face to his. In the girl's eyes he saw reflected everything that is best in a human being. "Will you take my Longren too?" she asked. "Yes." And he kissed her so hard in the wake of his iron "yes" that she laughed.
The Secret, at full speed ahead, raced away from awestruck Caperna. Paradise was on its way to being realized. The wine from the cellar buried beneath that castle so long ago, would now indeed, be tasted without reservation.