Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Moss Gown

Moss Gowndraws on tales the author heard growing up in North Carolina. The story is based on another version of Cinderella known as Rush Cape. However, it is also similar to the Jewish version I reviewed called The Way Meat Loves Salt: A Cinderella Tale from the Jewish Traditionin that it provides the same family basis for Moss Gown's banishment from the family and meeting with her prince.

Moss Gown's father is a wealthy southern plantation owner. He has three daughters and as he is determining how to divide his property, he asks them how much they love him. He is insulted when Candace, the youngest, tells him she loves him the way meat loves salt. In anger he disinherits her and her sisters throw her out of the house during a hurricane. During the storm, she meets an African American woman who she believes to be a witch. The woman gives her a moss gown, which appears beautiful when the woman gives it to her, but soon returns to its moss state. The woman tells her she will return when summoned with the appropriate words and leaves the girl to travel through the swamp.

At the end of the swamp, she finds a house and the Mistress of the house is kind enough to provide her with employment, sending her to the kitchens to work. She is very distressed over the situation with her father and does not see how she is to be reconciled with him. However, she does take interest when she finds out there is to be a three-day celebration and those with a ball gown may attend. Moss Gown remembers the words of the woman she met in the swamp and summons her to help her prepare. She is warned the magic will only last until the Morning Star begins to fade. She escapes each night and when the balls are over the Master's son is devastated that he cannot find the girl of his dreams. The servants are all worried he is wasting away as he refuses to eat. Moss Gown dons her dress again and summons the woman who changes the dress again. She brings food to him and even when the dress returns to rags he pledges his love and they are married.

The father's story is resolved when we discover his daughters have spent the estate into bankruptcy leaving the father begging in the streets. Moss Gown finds her father and has pity on him. She has the servants bring him in and orders the cook to make a dinner with no salt. When her father tastes the meal, she reveals who she is and her father finally understands the comment she made about the depth of her love for him. Her husband invites him to stay and the family is reunited.

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