Short stories of uneven quality, from the fairy tale title story to a group of Thomaseen James' yarns, best of the lot. Thomaseen James we've met before- that irrepressible Irishman who works -- after his own fashion, when the spirit moves him, and always manages to win in the war of wits with his employer. His technique provides entertainment for the reader and an heroic role for himself, whether the tale is told by Thomaseen (in lieu of working)- or whether the author tells the story on himself. One must have a taste for Maurice Walsh and the Irish, else the whimsy that sometimes skirts the edge of sentimentality, wears thin. But Walsh has a devoted following -- and this reader is not ashamed to count herself of the number, even here where it is not top drawer.