23. Julnar the Sea-born and Her Son King Badr Basim of Persia

A King called Shahriman is offered a slave-girl. At first she doesn’t say a thing but eventually she tells him she is Julnar the Sea-born. They have a child named Badr Basim. Julnar’s parents, who are Mermen and -maids approve the child. When Shahriman dies Badr Basim becomes king. His uncle and mother discuss which lady he should wed. They finally come to Jaurahah. When you hear about her you immediately fall in love. Badr who in secret overhears the description of Jaurahah loves her at once. Jaurahah’s father, however, finds no man suitable for his daughter. When Salih, Badr’s uncle, asks for her hand for Badr he is chased out of the palace. His men however overcome the troops of Jaurahah’s father outside and Salih takes over the throne.

Jaurahah flees to an island and hides in a tree. Badr also flees from the turmoil and rests under the same tree as where Jaurahah hides. She pretends she loves him and eventually turns him into a bird. One of her servant girls has to bring him to Thirsty Island to let him die, but in secret she doesn’t and sets him free.

Badr is captured by a fowler who gives him to a King. The wife of this King recognises Badr being a man and turns him back to human form. Badr Basim goes on a sea voyage but gets shipwrecked. He comes to a white city and find many asses, mules and horses on the island but no man except for one: Abdallah. The old man tells him the city is ruled by a sorceress, Queen Lab, who enchants all his lovers into animals.

Badr falls in love with the Queen and vice versa, but she cheats on him with one of her Mamelukes, whom she changed into a black bird. Abdallah tells Badr how to overcome the Queen, which he does. Queen Lab is turned into a she-mule by Badr. When Badr goes with the she-mule from the city he meets an old woman who tricks him in buying the she-mule. The woman is Queen Lab’s mother. She takes his daughter and Badr on an Ifrit back to the white city. Badr Basim is turned into a bird and put in a cage. Abdallah informs Julnar where her son is. She comes with her uncle Salih and an army of Jinn to free King Badr. They succeed and Julnar transforms Badr back into his human shape. Abdallah is made King over the city and Badr is married to Jaurahah whose father and herself are more than willing to accept. Both live a prosperous life until they die.

There was once a king in Ajam-land called Shahriman. One day a merchant comes to his court and presents him a very beautiful slave-girl. The King wants to buy the slave-girl but the merchant gives her to him for free. The King gives him twenty ducats and a splendid robe of honour.

After a while the king asks for the girl’s name but she remains silent. They are in a place called the White City. The other slave-girls state that she hasn’t said anything to them either. Only when the king one day requests a son from her to inherit the kingdom does she reply that her delivery is near at hand. The king is happy that the girl speaks and is with child. The girl says she is called Julnar the Sea-born. Her father was King of the Main and when he died another king took their realm. She had a fight with her brother, Salih, and went forth from the sea. She was found by a man who wanted besought her to love-liesse. She resisted and hit the man. He sold her to a merchant, a virtuous man, who gave her to the King.

Julnar says her family must help her deliver. She suggests to let her kin come to the palace. The King should hide and wait. Julnar does some conjurations at the sea till he kin come on the shore. They all walk on the surface of the water. She tells her story to her mother and brother. They are amazed that the lord of the palace hasn’t come to share the food. They also support her wish to stay at the palace. Julnar eventually shows King Shahriman to her kin by opening the closet in which he is hiding.

Julnar delivers a boy, Badr Basim. When the boy is shown to his uncle Salih, he takes Badr into the sea. King Shahriman is worried but Julnar calms him down. When Salih returns with Badr he says he cannot drown anymore. Then the Mermen and -women leave the palace.

Badr grows more beautiful everyday and becomes a judge. When his father dies he becomes King. He espies his mother and uncle, pretending to be asleep. They talk of marriage for Badr and enumerate all the possible candidates. However none is suitable. They do come to Princess Jauharah, a Mermaid, and he who ever hears her name falls immediately in love with her. Her father however is a fool. As Badr overhears them speak he immediately falls in love with Jauharah, but he conceals his love.

When Salih and Badr walk in the garden, Salih discovers that Badr overheard his conversation with Julnar. His uncle tries to persuade him not to seek the hand of the princess, without avail. King Badr doesn’t want to tell his mother because she would never agree to it. So Salih gives Badr a seal-ring to prevent him from drowning and protect him from sea-beasts. They go to Julnar’s mother in the sea. She doesn’t believe Badr Basim can wedlock Jauharah. Still Badr insists and his uncle says Badr is more beautiful than Jaurahah. Julnar’s mother warns for mischief.

When Salih is at King Al-Samandal’s palace, the King first thinks it is Salih who wants to wed his daughter, but Salih corrects himself that it is King Badr who wants to wed her. He tells Al-Samandal that Badr is more beautiful than Jauharah. Upon hearing this the King’s men pursue Salih out of the palace. Salih, however, had his own men waiting outside. They overcome Salih’s persuers and take King Al-Salaman captive.

Princess Jaurahah seeing her father being a prisoner, flees to a certain island and hides in a tree. Accidently Badr flees to the same island, being afraid for the capturing of the King. He lies down at the same tree, looks up and recognises the Princess. He talks her down and she beguiles King Badr pretending to be in love with him. Jaurahah turns Badr into a bird and asks one of her servants, Marsinah, to get him to the Thirsty Island and leave him there to die of thirst. But the servant-girl can’t bring herself to go to bring Badr to the Thirsty Island and sets him free in a tree full of fruit. She tells Jaurahah that he is on the island.

Salih goes back to Julnar’s mother to ask for King Badr, but she hasn’t seen him. She dispatches guards to find him. Julnar also misses her son and goes to her mother who relates the story to her daughter. King Salih sits on the thrown of Al-Samandal and is looking for Badr as well.

King Badr Basim is captured by a fowler. At first somebody wants to buy the bird to eat it, but the fowler gives it to the King of the land for ten ducats. When the King asks for his wife in private she quickly veils herself as she recognises Badr in the bird. She tells her husband the bird is King Badr Basim enchanted by Princess Jaurahah. She returns Badr to his original form and after relating his story he sets out on a ship. On the eleventh day the ship fell in a storm. Four days does Badr float in the sea as sole survivor until he comes to a white city.

When Badr wants to come ashore a great number of mules, asses and horses come to him, so he swims to the back of the city. The city is empty except for an old man, a grocer. When they go inside the grocer’s home the Shaykh says this is the City of Magicians and its Queen is an enchantress, called Lab. All the mules, asses and horses were sons of Adam once. She takes a young man home for forty days and then enchants him into a mule, ass or horse. The animals warn the Shaykh for keeping Badr un his home but the old man is not afraid because she loves and tenders the old man. He will tell her Badr is his brother’s son.

Then Queen Lab visits the Shaykh with many eunuchs. He tels her Badr is his brother’s son and she invites Badr to her palace. She has to promise the old man that she won’t enchant him, which she promises. Badr goes with her to her palace and is pampered by the Queen. The next morning he wakes up alone and after some searching finds some birds in the garden. A white bird plays with a black bird and then the white bird changes into Queen Lab. He figures out that the black bird must be another man whom she enjoyed and King Badr becomes jealous. However he conceals his knowledge and later on asks her if he can return to the old man which he does. The Shaykh tells him all the birds were amorous men and the black bird was one of her Mamalukes, whom she turned into a bird when he had an eye for another girl. The old man also tells her she does not love him fully and will destroy him if she finds out what he knows. The old man is not afraid of the Queen because she fears him as he serves the Omnipotent.

Badr goes back to the Queen and she finds out he saw her in the garden as a bird. She tells him the truth and when he pretends to sleep she casts an enchantment. She casts a river out of something red and takes a handful of barley and strew it on the floor. She waters the barley with water from the river and it becomes wheat. Then she turns it into flour, puts it aside and returns to bed.

Badr returns to Abdallah, the old man, and he warns Badr Queen Lab will cast a spell on him. She will offer Badr parched grain which he should feign to eat, otherwise she can turn Badr in anything she would like. When she sees no harm is done she will jest with Badr. Then he must offer her a parched barley of his own and when she eats it he must throw water in her face saying  “Quit this human form” and choose a shape of his desire.

When he returns everything happens as Abdallah predicted and Badr changes her into a she-mule. Abdallah gets a bridle for her and he urges King Badr Basim to go forth.

After Badr has travelled for three days he is invited into a home of an old man. On their way they meet an old woman who wants to buy the she-mule. King Badr says it’s not for sale. She insists and Badr eventually says the se-mule is thousand ducats, for he did not believe she had so much money. When she offers him the money he refuses, saying he was only joking. But lady says people are put to death when they lie in this country. He offers the she-mule and then the old lady transforms her back to her human form. She is Queen Lab’s mother and she conjures an Ifrit on which they both fly away with King Badr.

Back in Queen Lab’s castle King Badr is turned into a bird and put in a cage. A servant girl informs Abdallah. He sends a message to Julnar the Sea-born and Farasah her mother. The assembled all the Jinn and the troops of the main. The Unbelievers are slain at once and when Julnar enters the palace he asks for her son. The servant-girl shows her the cage with the bird. Badr is turned back into human form. Abdallah is married to the messenger sent to Julnar and is made King of the city. The animals are all turned into humans again.

When Julnar and Farashah want to find a new bride for King Badr he says he will only marry Jauharah. When they go to Al-Samandal he says his daughter is Badr’s handmaid and servant. Jaurahah obeys her father saying her chagrin is gone. King Badr Basim and Jaurahah are then married. They cease not from living the most delectable life till there comes the Sunderer of Societies.

From: The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night — Volume 07

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