Very brief summary
When a sailor was on a voyage, his wife fell ill. She asked the innkeeper for money to cure her, but he demanded her love in return, the woman refused and died, leaving an orphaned eight-month-old daughter, Assol.
The sailor raised his daughter alone, making a living by making toy ships and selling them.
The villagers where the sailor lived disliked him and his daughter for not rescuing the drowning innkeeper. They did not know that in this way the sailor had avenged the innkeeper for the death of his wife.
The little girl grew up taking the toys her father had made to the neighboring town. One day she met a collector of fairy tales and legends who predicted that when she grew up, a handsome prince would come for her on a yacht with crimson sails and take her to his kingdom. The sailor supported his daughter's dreams, and the locals laughed at her.
Far from the village, in a rich and haughty family grew up a kind and sympathetic boy, Gray, who dreamed of becoming a sailor.
He enlisted as a young man on a ship and overcame hardships to get his way. After years of sailing, the young man visited his ancestral home. His father was already dead. His mother gave a large sum of money, and the young man bought his own ship.
After a while, the young man arrived in town, where the sailor's daughter was taking toys to sell, and saw a girl sleeping in the woods. The young man put a ring on her finger. He found out that the girl was being made fun of because she was waiting for a prince on a ship with scarlet sails.
After ordering that the sails be changed to scarlet and hiring musicians, the young man sailed to the girl's village to marry her. The villagers saw a boat launched from a white ship with scarlet sails, and a handsome young man sat in it, sailed to the shore, and took the girl away. Soon the old sailor joined the lovers.
Chapter by Chapter
Chapter 1. Prediction
After another long voyage, Sailor Longren returns home to the small village of Caperna.
During Longren's absence, his daughter Assol was born and his wife died. A neighbor told her that the money Longren left behind was spent by his wife on medical treatment after a difficult delivery. She tried to borrow it from a wealthy innkeeper, Menners, but he demanded her love for it.
The desperate woman decided to pawn her wedding ring, but on her way, caught in a heavy downpour, caught a cold and soon died of pneumonia.
Longren raised his daughter on his own, making a living by making toy ships and selling them. The father and daughter lived a secluded life, away from everyone.
One day the boat with Menners was caught in a storm. The innkeeper asked for help, but Longren, standing on the shore, pretended not to hear. He avenged his dead wife. To the men who found him, the dying Menners told them that Longren did not want to save him. The people of Caperna turned their backs on him and began to despise little Assol.
...Rare were they capable of remembering an insult more grievous than that suffered by Longren, and of grieving as much as he grieved for the rest of his life for Mary...
When Assol was eight years old, her father taught her to read and write, and sometimes sent her alone to the neighboring town of Liss to take the toys she had made. The girl had to walk through the woods. One day on the way to Liss, she stopped for a break and decided to play with the ship with the scarlet sails and let it run down the stream. The stream carried the ship into the thicket of the forest, where the girl met old man Egle.
He was fascinated by the girl, didn't ask about her life, leaving everything to "The Beautiful Unknown." Assol was quite unlike the inhabitants of Caperna, where "they tell no tales... they sing no songs." Egl planted a dream in her soul that when she grew up, a handsome prince would come after her on a yacht with scarlet sails.
You will live there with me in the pink deep valley. You will have everything you desire; we will live with you so amicably and cheerfully that your soul will never know tears or sorrow.
On returning home Assol told her father of the prophecy. He did not dissuade his daughter and supported her dream. Their conversation was overheard by a passing beggar and told about it to the locals, who began to ridicule the girl.
Chapter 2. Gray
In a rich and haughty family, Arthur Gray grew up the exact opposite of his parents. To keep his son from associating with those below him, his father removed the children of the servants from the castle, and the boy grew up alone.
One day while playing in the castle, young Gray wandered into a library filled with dusty lights and cupboards piled high with piles of books. Above the door he saw a picture of a ship in a storm. The boy decided to become a sailor, ran away from home at age 15 and enlisted as a cabin boy on a ship. The captain, a stern but kind man, looked after the young man. Overcoming hardships, the pampered Gray got his way.
Five years later, Gray visited his parents. His father had died by then. Gray received a large sum from his mother and bought a ship, the Galiot Secret.
Chapter 3: The Dawning
Four more years later Gray arrived in Lyss. An irresistible desire drew him ashore. Taking one of the sailors with him, he sailed to Caperna to fish. In the woods Gray saw Assol sleeping.
He fell in love with the girl and put a ring on her finger. At the local inn, Gray decided to find out who she was. The son of the deceased Menners, now the innkeeper, said that the girl's father is his father's murderer, and that Assol herself is a madwoman: she is waiting for a prince on a ship with crimson sails. Their conversation was overheard by a drunken coal miner and told Gray that Menners was lying: Assol was perfectly healthy.
Chapter 4. On the Eve
On the eve of the day Gray arrived in Caperna, Assol returned from Liss with the sad news that Longren's toys were no longer needed. Longren had decided to rehire as a sailor.
Assol dreamed of a prince who would come for her on a ship with scarlet sails, and she waited for him.
More than once, worried and timid, she would go away at night to the seashore, where, waiting for the dawn, she would look out for a ship with Scarlet Sails in all seriousness.
Waking up in the woods with a ring on her finger, she knew that her meeting with the prince was close.
Chapter 5: Battle Preparations
Gray bought two thousand yards of scarlet silk and hired musicians. Instructing his sailor to watch over Assol's house, Gray began to prepare for the meeting.
Chapter 6. Assol is left alone
Longren enlisted as a sailor on a mail steamer and went to sea. Assol is left alone.
Chapter 7: The Scarlet Secret
Gray drove his ship to meet the girl who was to become his wife.
...thanks to her, I learned a simple truth. It is in doing so-called miracles with your own hands.
Looking out the window, Assol suddenly saw a white ship with scarlet sails playing music. All the people of Caperna ran ashore: never had such a large ship appeared in their village. The people parted in front of Assol who had run ashore. A boat separated from the ship. Assol ran into the sea, and Gray, taking the girl into the boat, carried her to his ship. Assol was worried whether he would take Longren with them, and Gray agreed.
The retelling is based on the 1988 edition of the novel (Minsk: Yunatstva, 1988).