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PRINCE OMAR AND PRINCESS SHEHERAZADEOnce upon a timeon the island of Kaledanlived a king who was famous all over the Eastwell-loved by his subjects and respected even by his enemies. In spite of having a good and beautiful wifehis life was not always happy. After years of marriagethey had no children and were afraid they would never know the joy of a family.

Howeverat long lastone splendid spring morninga handsome baby boy was born and his delighted parents called him Omar. In the language of Kaledanthis means "shining light". The years went by and Omar grew into a fine-looking youthbraveintelligent and kind-hearted.

On his eighteenth birthdaythe king sent for his son.

"Omarnow that you've come of ageyou 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 girlshe did not fall in love. When twelve months had passedthe young prince was again summoned to his father.

"Wellson" said the king anxiously"when am I to announce your engagement?"

"AlasfatherI 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 sorryfatherI can't do that just yet. I'm not in love and so I can't get married." The kingwho could not bear to be crossed in such an important matterwent into a rage. He shouted for the guards and ordered them to shut the prince in an old castle in the forest.

In the meanwhilelovely sweetnatured Princess Sheherazade was a maiden whose home was in China. When she became sixteen years oldher 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 kingher fatherdid served to change her mindhe locked the princess up in one of the palaces.

"I'd rather be a prisoner" said the princessthan have a husband I didn't love."

MeantimeOmar spent lonely sad days in the castle where he was held prisoner. Howevertwo invisible geniesAbhu and Dhabi were amusing themselvesunknown to the princeby 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 Sheherazadethe King of China's daughter." The genies started to arguethen decided to ask Lilibeththe daughter of the genie king to judge the matter. Lilibeth's advice was this:

"Go to Chinacast a sleeping spell over the princess and bring her to Omar's castle. When you see them togetherthen 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 lovelythey seem made for each other" remarked the geniesgazing at the two young people together. "If only they could get to know each other . . ." And in the hope that they mightthe genies hid behind a curtain and waited . . .

Not long afterwardsSheherazade opened her eyes andwhen she saw Omar at her sideher 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 laterOmar set eyes on Sheherazade and was overwhelmed by her beauty.

"If this girl is as kind as she's beautifulshe 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 againhe fell asleep. Abhu and Dhabi crept out from behind the curtainwide-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 lovethey'll move heaven and earth to meet again."

And sowhen Omar awokeSheherazade had vanished. Confused and upsetthe prince asked his guards and servants if they had seen her. When the king heard the storyhe told Omar:

"My ladyou are losing your head over a girl you dreamed about!"

"Noshe wasn't a dream" the prince insisted. "This is the ring she left me!" Omar was lovesick. The king called doctors and wise menbut there was nothing they could dofor Omar was losing his will to live.

And far awaySheherazade 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 Marzuana childhood friendand he offered to search for the missing youth. Sheherazade handed him Omar's ruby ring. Marzuan set out that same day butthough he travelled far and wideno-one could give him a clue as to the young man's identity.

In the meantimeAbhu and Dhabi secretly followed in his tracks. One daya merchant told Marzuan thaton the island of Kaledanthere was a lovesick prince. Feeling that this might be the very person he was seekingMarzuan took a passage on a ship bound for Kaledan. After days of sailinga terrible storm brokedriving the ship onto a reefwhere it sank. Clinging to a floating sparMarzuan held on till the storm died awaythen headed for the shore. The beach was desertedbut in the distance he could see the turrets of a castle. Thenas he was getting his strength backhe 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 doctorand famous in my own land. I hear that a prince here is seriously illand I'd like to try and cure him."

"Yes" replied the horseman"Prince Omar is indeed seriously illbut it seems his illness is fatal." Disturbed by his wordsMarzuan sald:

"Take me to him straight away." When admitted to Omar's presencewithout 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 dreamshe would be truly happy.

He presented Marzuan with a jewelled sword and a splendid horseas fast as the windas 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 journeythe cheerful procession led by Omar and Marzuanmany days laterreached distant China. When they reached Sheherazade's cityOmar announced his arrival by sending a messenger with a letter for the princess and a diamond ring.

At long lastthe couple had met again. They exchanged their firstaffectionate words and found they really were meant for each other. Sure of their feelings and anxious to start a new life togetherOmar and Sheherazade quickly asked the king's permission to get married as soon as possible.

The invisible geniesAbhu and Dhabi toowere at the weddinga few days later.

"Sheherazade really is lovely!" Dhabi exclaimed.

"Yesbut Omar . . ." said Abhu.

"Are you looking for an argument again?" demanded Dhabi. Just thenLilibeththe genie king's daughter appeared.

"We still haven't decided which is the better-looking" said Abhu and Dhabi.

"WellI'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 satisfactionand the two genies hugged each other contentedly.




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