These short stories with a novella probe the secret, contained world of the self and certainly in those which deal with children, the walls are assaulted. There's a chilling myth about spies invented by a child in wartime; there's a dotty, wonderful old farm woman who with her son attempts to share the private joys of a child's secret pool: and a motherless servant girl at thirteen who accepts her first lover and then takes a lonely path. The author also enters adult hells when she creates characters confronting the need to love-- such as the elderly mistress of a clipped garden who realizes too late that ""there is nobody I love."" In the novella, The Astronomer, a retired mill worker against his will becomes involved in the affairs of a young couple, Eva and Fred. Eva, refusing love that is charted and mapped, leaves, while the Astronomer seeks a personal concern from the cold stars... Doris Betts who has had an earlier collection of short stories and at least two novels, uses this kind of somewhat small town setting well and even if the stories as such are tenuous, they are not inconsequential.