Chapter 1 – Maria At the Seaside 

Accompanying the bouquet of birthday flowers was a letter.

Since you never listen to me, I’ll be leaving you a letter.

I wonder when we stopped talking to each other.
We used to get along well in the past, at least during our childhood.

You probably don’t remember, but you were so adorable when you followed me.
Perhaps we will cross paths, who knows?

As an elder brother, I would like to get along well with you, my sister, for the long time ahead.

Won’t you talk to me? 

Should you not like that, let’s hold a conversation every day, even if it’s only for moments.

The ringing of the bell signalled the end of the day.
Upon the cue of this bell, the seaside town wrapped up its work.

As she viewed the sky fading into the evening from the old monastery on the hill, a sigh escaped her lips.
The town, dominated by white houses, has assumed a vermilion hue.

“Maria, it is time for prayer.”

“Yes, Sister Sally.”

She followed her educator, Sister Sally.

Despite her arrival here in only two months, she felt as if she were in her birthplace.
It made her wonder if she hailed from this town.

After concluding her prayer, Maria would tend to the orphans.
It was bedtime for the little ones.
Perhaps owing to the devout piety of the residents, the orphans did not have to struggle for food or clothing.
Fresh produce from their farms was offered to them, and they even gave away outgrown clothing from their children.

While Maria was assisting the young children in changing their clothes after praying and having a modest supper, Sister Sally called for her.

“Hurry to the director’s office, you have a very important visitor.”

“I have a visitor?”

Who on earth would come to visit her?

“Yes, they are very well-dressed people.
It must be your family.”

“My family…”

Even if that were said, it wouldn’t register with her.
Maria was unable to recall her past.

“Finally, someone recognizes you.
Since you can read and write and you seem to be well educated, surely you are the daughter of a wealthy man.”

She questioned why, in the absence of recollection, the daughter of a wealthy man would have washed up on the seashore.
A vaguely unsettling feeling set in.
Incidentally, the fisherman that caught sight of her assumed that she was a sea lion.

Thanks to the healthy and modest lifestyle at the monastery, she had slimmed down.
When she first arrived here, her body was overweight.
In the monastery’s self-sufficient lifestyle, her protruding belly was an obstacle to agricultural activities.
Now, she could move effortlessly.

Sister Agnes, the abbess in charge, suggested the name Maria to her, which the latter was very fond of.
She was keen to be a nun here and had been offered an apprenticeship by Sister Agnes.

After all this time, even if she was to be told that she had a family, that was…

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