However, at long last, one splendid spring morning, a handsome baby boy was born and his delighted parents called him Omar. In the language of Kaledan, this means "shining light". The years went by and Omar grew into a fine-looking youth, brave, intelligent and kind-hearted.
On his eighteenth birthday, the king sent for his son.
"Omar, now that you've come of age, you must find a wife. Choose one of the many princesses you've met and whose only dream is of marrying you."
"Father," said Omar respectfully, "I've no intention of getting married. I'm still young and I'd rather wait till the time is ripe. I want to think about it for at least another year." The king agreed and Omar spent the year studying with the wisest and cleverest teachers in the kingdom. And though he got to know a number of girls, he did not fall in love. When twelve months had passed, the young prince was again summoned to his father.
"Well, son," said the king anxiously, "when am I to announce your engagement?"
"Alas, father, I still haven't met the right girl," was Omar's reply. The king lost his temper.
"Omar! You must stop wasting time. You're a grown man now and I want to see your heirs. Think of the future and make up your mind without delay."
"I'm sorry, father, I can't do that just yet. I'm not in love and so I can't get married." The king, who could not bear to be crossed in such an important matter, went into a rage. He shouted for the guards and ordered them to shut the prince in an old castle in the forest.
In the meanwhile, lovely sweetnatured Princess Sheherazade was a maiden whose home was in China. When she became sixteen years old, her father insisted she marry one of the princes that flocked to court her. But Sheherazade was waiting to meet a true love. And since nothing the king, her father, did served to change her mind, he locked the princess up in one of the palaces.
"I'd rather be a prisoner," said the princess, than have a husband I didn't love."
Meantime, Omar spent lonely sad days in the castle where he was held prisoner. However, two invisible genies, Abhu and Dhabi were amusing themselves, unknown to the prince, by secretly watching his movements. One day Abhu said to his friend:
"Omar is the most handsome person in the whole world."
"Not so!" exclaimed Dhabi. "The most beautiful person in the world is Sheherazade, the King of China's daughter." The genies started to argue, then decided to ask Lilibeth, the daughter of the genie king to judge the matter. Lilibeth's advice was this:
"Go to China, cast a sleeping spell over the princess and bring her to Omar's castle. When you see them together, then you'll soon see which is the most beautiful." That very night Abhu and Dhabi flew all the way to China. The two genies sent the princess to sleep and carried her to Omar's castle.
"They're so lovely, they seem made for each other," remarked the genies, gazing at the two young people together. "If only they could get to know each other . . ." And in the hope that they might, the genies hid behind a curtain and waited . . .
Not long afterwards, Sheherazade opened her eyes and, when she saw Omar at her side, her heart began to thump. This was the man she would like to marry. So she took off one of her rings and slipped it on to his finger as a token of love. Then she went back to sleep. On wakening a little later, Omar set eyes on Sheherazade and was overwhelmed by her beauty.
"If this girl is as kind as she's beautiful, she would make a wonderful wife," said Omar to himself as he gazed at her in amazement. Then he took off a ruby ring and slipped it onto the princess's finger. Drowsy again, he fell asleep. Abhu and Dhabi crept out from behind the curtain, wide-eyed.
"They've fallen in love," said Dhabi. "What are we to do now?"
"Take Sheherazde home again. But if they have really fallen in love, they'll move heaven and earth to meet again."
And so, when Omar awoke, Sheherazade had vanished. Confused and upset, the prince asked his guards and servants if they had seen her. When the king heard the story, he told Omar:
"My lad, you are losing your head over a girl you dreamed about!"
"No, she wasn't a dream," the prince insisted. "This is the ring she left me!" Omar was lovesick. The king called doctors and wise men, but there was nothing they could do, for Omar was losing his will to live.
And far away, Sheherazade was pining in sorrow. The king was certain his daughter must have dreamt it all. How otherwise could she have met the mysterious young man? The only person who believed the princess was Marzuan, a childhood friend, and he offered to search for the missing youth. Sheherazade handed him Omar's ruby ring. Marzuan set out that same day but, though he travelled far and wide, no-one could give him a clue as to the young man's identity.
In the meantime, Abhu and Dhabi secretly followed in his tracks. One day, a merchant told Marzuan that, on the island of Kaledan, there was a lovesick prince. Feeling that this might be the very person he was seeking, Marzuan took a passage on a ship bound for Kaledan. After days of sailing, a terrible storm broke, driving the ship onto a reef, where it sank. Clinging to a floating spar, Marzuan held on till the storm died away, then headed for the shore. The beach was deserted, but in the distance he could see the turrets of a castle. Then, as he was getting his strength back, he saw a horseman approach.
"Where am I?" Marzuan asked the stranger.
"On the island of Kaledan," replied the horseman. "Who are you?" Marzuan jumped to his feet.
"I'm a doctor, and famous in my own land. I hear that a prince here is seriously ill, and I'd like to try and cure him."
"Yes," replied the horseman, "Prince Omar is indeed seriously ill, but it seems his illness is fatal." Disturbed by his words, Marzuan sald:
"Take me to him straight away." When admitted to Omar's presence, without saying a word~ Marzuan showed him the ruby ring. Omar uttered a shriek and leapt to his feet. The onlookers stared in surprise.
"This is the ring I gave to the girl I want to marry!" the prince exclaimed joyfully.
"That young lady is Sheherazade. She lives in far off China and is dying to see you again," Marzuan told him instantly. Omar was delighted. In finding the girl of his dreams, he would be truly happy.
He presented Marzuan with a jewelled sword and a splendid horse, as fast as the wind, as a token of thanks. Then he told him to take him as quickly as could be to the beautiful princess. Overcoming all the difficulties that it had to face during the long journey, the cheerful procession led by Omar and Marzuan, many days later, reached distant China. When they reached Sheherazade's city, Omar announced his arrival by sending a messenger with a letter for the princess and a diamond ring.
At long last, the couple had met again. They exchanged their first, affectionate words and found they really were meant for each other. Sure of their feelings and anxious to start a new life together, Omar and Sheherazade quickly asked the king's permission to get married as soon as possible.
The invisible genies, Abhu and Dhabi too, were at the wedding, a few days later.
"Sheherazade really is lovely!" Dhabi exclaimed.
"Yes, but Omar . . ." said Abhu.
"Are you looking for an argument again?" demanded Dhabi. Just then, Lilibeth, the genie king's daughter appeared.
"We still haven't decided which is the better-looking," said Abhu and Dhabi.
"Well, I'd say they are the best-looking couple in the world," said Lilibeth. "And I'm certain their children will be even more handsome."
And so the argument finally ended to everybody's satisfaction, and the two genies hugged each other contentedly.