"Greetings, Aldar Kose! Why, you are burning up. What is the matter?" said the bai.
"It is this magic coat," explained Aldar Kose. "It is far too warm. The holes let all of the cold out, and what little cool air does come in, blows right out through the next hole. I am melting from the heat."
Upon hearing this story, you would think that the bai should have known better. After all, Aldar Kose was known far and wide as the cleverest and trickiest man on the steppe. But the bai only heard that Aldar Kose had something wondrous that he himself did not, and was gripped by the desire to have it for his own.
"My poor man," said the bai. "How you suffer! Let me help you. I will trade my fur coat and hat, which are just right, for your holey, too-warm ones, so that you may be more comfortable on your journey."
Aldar Kose thought about the bai's offer, hiding his smile behind his hand. "Sir, you are generous, but I cannot accept the trade," he said. "This coat was enchanted and given to me by my father, whom I dearly miss."
Now the bai could not stand not to get what he wanted, and so wanted the coat even more. He said, "I see it is difficult for you to let me help you. Take my coat and hat, and my horse, which rides like the wind. The breeze will cool you."
Aldar Kose hesitated a moment. "On the one hand, I should honor my father's warning, though I don't recall what it was. On the other hand, he always did encourage generosity in others, so I should allow you to help me."
The bai could no longer hide his impatience to own the magic coat. "Then you cannot refuse my generous offer. Take the fur coat, hat, horse and this bag of gold for your father's wisdom, give me that coat and consider yourself fortunate in the trade!"
Well, quick as a flash, Aldar Kose surrendered that coat of holes and the tired old horse to the bai. He put on the fur coat and hat, took the bag of gold, and mounted his new horse. The bai now sat on the old horse, wearing the holey coat and looking very pleased with himself. As Aldar Kose turned to ride away, he paused. "Aha! I've just remembered my father's warning," he said. "The magic in the coat works only for me. Good-bye!"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~Aldar Kose is the trickster of Central Asian folklore, similar to Anansi the spider of West Africa, or Br'er Rabbit and Coyote in American tales. Often he uses his wit and cleverness to aid the common man, or to turn the tables on the greedy or selfish. He appears in Uzbek, Tatar, Kyrgiz, and Karakalpak folktales as well as in numerous Kazakh variants.
A more elaborate version of "Aldar Kose Tricks the Bai" is included in Tales Told in Tents: Stories from Central Asia.
Another nicely illustrated collection of Central Asian folktales is Stories from the Silk Road.
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