Once upon a time, there lived a king of Ajam-land whose name was Shahriman. He had a hundred concubines and each was more beautiful than the last. Unfortunately, none of his very many wives had been able to provide him with the child that he so greatly desired.
Shahriman began to despair and worried that he would never father an heir for his vast and large kingdom. It was at that moment that a merchant appeared in his court accompanied by the most graceful woman anyone had ever laid their eyes on. She was so exquisite that she appeared to be from another world.
The king proceeded to ask the merchant for her bride price. It was, then, that he came to realise that she was a slave. The merchant had purchased her for a fair sum of money and had spent an exorbitant amount for her upkeep.
Nevertheless, the merchant decided to present her as a gift to the king as he wanted to ensure that she would have a good home.
King Shahriman gladly and gratefully accepted the merchant’s generous gift. In exchange, the king gave him a lovely cloak and more money than the merchant could have ever dreamed of.
The merchant, then, went his merry way.
For one whole year, the king remained devoted to his beautiful and mysterious wife. For the entirety of their first year together, the king continued to shower her with presents and serve her all manner of lavish food. He entertained her with music and showed her rich artworks of all manner. Throughout this period, the mysterious woman spoke not a single word.
Finally, the king told her that if she would give him a son, he would declare her to be his queen. The woman finally smiled and admitted that she was, indeed, with child.
The king’s heart was elated and overjoyed for the woman whom he had fallen in love with had not only spoken to him; she had also announced that he would soon be a father.
Shahriman asked his mysterious wife why she had remained silent for so long. It was, then, that she told him her story.
Her name was Julnar and she was a princess of the sea kingdom. She had had a disagreement with her brother and had climbed up on land. When she arrived on land, she met a man who was vile and almost killed him.
However, she had also met the merchant, who was kind, hospitable and virtuous and brought her to the king. Julnar then told her husband that if he hadn’t treated her so well, she would have escaped to the sea a long time ago.
With her story finally told, she returned to reconcile with her family where they helped her to give birth to her son, Prince Badar Basim.
Queen Julnar was crowned and lived happily with King Shahriman and their son.
Her sea-family often came to visit…