As usual with the Winter's Tales series, modesty is the specialty of the house: plain-ish, unsauced stories unlikely to raise the hair on the back of anyone's neck. Among the well-built but highly tame entries: Anne Schlee's story of childhood friendship, ""Virginia""; John Wain's Oxford-drama-society memoir, ""The Tranquility Stone""; Anne Piper's ""A Good Game""; Julia O'Faolain's Daughter of Passion"" (Irish women on hunger strike in an English prison); William Trevor's tale of academic revenge, ""Two More Gallants""; and Stan Barstow's ""Work In Progress."" Two pieces, however, do churn up some strong feelings: in ""Afternoon Pleasures,"" Kathleen Farrell--with cold glee--goes about making a desultory tryst into a wildly unappetizing and ridiculous situation; John Rizkalla offers a grim story of class horror in Egypt, ""The Servant of the Last Hour."" And the standout here is John Haylock's refined, harrowing ""The Worries of Lawrence Ridley""--about an octogenarian writer, all but forgotten, who's suddenly invited up to a society country weekend, to obscure purposes. . . and who, once there, suffers endless humiliations. Three memorable tales, then, along with a slew of respectable also-rans: a sturdy, about-average serving of British stories for followers of this reliable series.