Gossamer begins with the protagonist, Littlest being taught how to give people dreams by her instructor Fastidious. Littlest’s childish and playful nature annoys Fastidious greatly. At their home, the Heap, Fastidious complains about her student to Most Ancient, who is the leader. Most Ancient and Fastidious decide that Thin Elderly will become Littlest’s mentor.
Littlest is part of a small colony of dream-givers. Through touching, they gather fragments such as colors, words, sounds, and scents. They then combine the fragments to become dreams, and give the dreams to humans, and sometimes pets. The giving of dreams is called the bestowal. Thin Elderly explains to be gentle in the touching and not to touch too deeply, because a dream-giver who picks up bad fragments of a memory becomes a Sinisteed, a horse-like creature who inflicts nightmares. Thin Elderly gladly discovers that Littlest has the "gossamer touch", the ability to gather and bestow gently.
An elderly woman and her dog Toby live in the house Littlest and Thin Elderly are assigned to. The woman decides that she is going to take an eight-year-old boy named John into her household. The social workers describe him as "angry." Another dreamgiver, Strapping, is assinged to give dreams to the boys mother. She was an intelligent woman, but was forbidden to participate in social and intellectual events by Duane, her abusive ex husband. John was taken away from her because it was not a good environment for a child. When John arrives at the woman's home, he acts violent and angry. The woman acts kind and tries to be understanding.
At the dream-givers' Heap, Most Ancient reports that the Sinisteeds are gathering, intent on a particular victim.That night, Littlest and Thin...
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