Dâtgâ's, the nephew of a chief at Chilkoot, used to lie all the time bundled up in a corner made by the retaining timbers. When everybody else was in bed he would rise and go to the fire. Then he would gather the coals into a heap in order to warm his blanket over them. The people of that town were starving, so Dâtgâ's would say, as he held his blanket over the coals, "Would that a piece of dried salmon fell upon this from the smoke hole." He did this every night.
One time, as he was standing over the fire without holding his blanket out, some one called to him, "Dâtgâ's, stretch out your blanket once more." So he stretched it out and held it there for sometime thinking, "Who is that calling me?" By and by he heard the voice again, "Dâtgâ's, stretch it out farther." So, though he could not see who was speaking, he stretched it far out. Then half of a salmon fell upon his blanket. He took this, cut it into small pieces, and distributed them among a number of empty boxes that were in the house. At once all of those boxes were full of salmon.
The uncle of Dâtgâ's had two wives, the younger of whom was very good to him. Although they had to be sparing with their food, when they were eating salmon she always put a little piece aside for him. The next evening, after he had eaten his morsel of food and was lying down, he was called once more by the voice, "Stretch your blanket out again." He ran quickly to the smoke hole and spread out his blanket under it, but nothing came down, so he said, "I think I will wish for something. I wish that some grease would come down to eat with the salmon." And suddenly a sack of grease fell upon his blanket, knocked it away, and dropped upon the fireplace. He ran with this to the empty grease boxes and put a spoonful in each, upon which all were immediately filled with grease. Once more the voice called him, "Dâtgâ's, stretch your blanket out again." He did so, wishing for a sack of berries, and an animal stomach filled with them dropped down at once. This time he held his blanket very firmly so that it would not be carried out of his fingers. He put a spoonful of berries into each empty berry box, and they were all filled.
After this he sat down thinking that he would not be summoned again, but once more the voice came, this time very loudly, "Dâtgâ's, stretch out your blanket." So he stretched it out, and there came down upon it a sack of cranberries preserved in grease. He put a spoonful into each empty box as before and filled them.
Again came the voice, "Dâtgâ's, stretch out your blanket." Then there came down a piece of venison dried with the fat on. When he had cut it into many small pieces and distributed these among the boxes they were at once filled. It was now very late, but the voice called him once more, "Dâtgâ's, stretch out your blanket again." Then there came down a cake of dried soapberries which he broke into little pieces, distributed among the boxes and made those full also.
Next morning the chief's house was crowded with hungry people begging for food, and all that the chief could give them was a little tobacco to chew. He had nothing even for himself. Seeing this, the people began to go out. Now, Dâtgâ's said to his uncle, "Why are all going out without having had anything to eat?" He was a very quiet fellow who seldom said anything, and, when he broke out in
this manner, his uncle became very angry with him. "Why do you want those people to stay?" he said. "What will you give them to eat? If you have so much to say why don't you feed them?" "Well," answered Dâtgâ's, "I will feed them." His uncle looked at him in surprise. He had seen him acting strangely at night, and had wondered what he was doing. While they were talking, the younger wife of his uncle kept looking at him and shaking her head, because she was afraid that her husband would become angry with him.
His uncle thought that the boy was only talking, so he said, "Feed them, then." The boy said, "Call them all in and I will feed them." Half of the people had already gone out, but some stood listening to him as he talked with his uncle, and one of these who stood near the door called those that had gone out, to return.
When the people were all in, Dâtgâ's went to the place where the salmon used to be packed away, and his uncle thought to himself, "That fellow is going back there to those empty boxes." When he returned with one of them, however, it looked very heavy, and presently he handed out a salmon to every boy in the room, telling him to roast it at the fire. So his uncle had nothing more to say.
Next Dâtgâ's told some of the boys to get trays, and, after he had filled them, he set them before the people. Telling them to keep quiet, he went back again to the place where the boxes were and called for help. Two more boys went back there and brought forward a box of oil to eat with their salmon.
After they had eaten these things, he called the boys to go back with him again and they brought out a box of venison. His uncle kept very quiet while this was going on, and his younger wife felt very proud. Next Dâtgâ's had them bring out a box of berries a preserved in grease, which he passed around in large dishes. The chief began to think that his nephew was giving too much at a time of famine, but he could say nothing. Then preserved high-bush cranberries were served to the people in large dishes and finally soapberries, which all the boys stirred.
After this feast everyone left the house, but they soon came back one by one to buy food, for they had plenty of other property. People that were dying of starvation were strengthened by the food he gave them. For one large moose hide he would give two salmon. He asked his uncle's younger wife to receive the goods that he was getting in exchange. But, after he had obtained a great deal of property more than half of the food was still left.
The chief, his uncle, was quite old at that time, both of his wives being much younger. He felt very well disposed toward his nephew to think that he had been so liberal and had kept up his uncle's name, so he said to him, "You have done well to me and to my village
people. Had it been another young fellow he would have hidden the food, but instead you have brought my village people and myself to life. Now take your choice between my wives. Take whichever you want."
The young man did not answer at once, but the younger wife knew that he would choose her, because the elder wife hated him. Finally he said, "I will take the young woman, for she has been good to me." Then his uncle moved to one side and let his nephew take his place. He became exceedingly wealthy, and was very good to the people of his village and to his uncle.
191:a These were the berries called tînx.