A little girl's consuming secret guilt is made affectingly real in this story from Austria about timid Annie, who boasts to classmate Josepha that she can make the rain stop and then is taken aback when her ""charm"" seems to work. Inspired by a folktale read in school, she also tells Josepha of a treausre promised her by a ghostly miller. Soon the lie has grown to unmanageable proportions, with Josepha blackmailing Annie for a share of the treasure and blaming her for the severe drought that has dried up the river and caused a forest fire that Josepha's brother dies fighting. Josepha, now in self-important mourning, becomes ""black Josepha,"" an oppressive, almost archetypal figure pacing back and forth in front of Annie's house, ordering her around and forbidding her other playmates, always threatening to reveal her presumed responsibility for the community's troubles. A clergyman Annie meets in a cemetery finally elicits a confession and sets her straight. ""You children!"" says the young chaplain. ""We simply don't know what's going on inside you."" But Valencak opens a window, showing us both Annie's torment and the world she perceives so intently.