He loves her. She’s the one, no doubt about it. They work in the same pub, and seeing her each day, all day long, has sealed his resolve. He will marry Patsy Finucane. And they will be happy.

Family obligations, however, require Paulie to make a brief visit back to the farm of his birth in rural Ireland. His father has died. He must help his mother settle things. Then he can return to the city, to the life he has made there, and to Patsy.

But this is a William Trevor short story, and that means Paulie’s future will slowly darken, like the sky before a storm. Paulie is torn. Is his duty to his widowed parent or to himself? If he goes back to the city, he will be haunted. If he stays on the farm — Patsy is not cut out to be a farmer’s wife — he will be lonely.

He must choose between permanent guilt or permanent sadness. But there is no choice, really.

Thus “The Hill Bachelors,” one of the 48 artful, evocative tales in a new collection of Trevor’s incomparable work, moves toward its inevitable conclusion.

What matters is not so much Paulie’s choice — his destiny is as fixed as the gray hills that ring the farm — but the way Trevor suggests the full dimension of his character’s tragedy. The author does not resort to melodramatic language; he simply describes Paulie’s romantic life in the community to which he has exiled himself, the succession of movie dates: “When the lights went down he waited a bit before he put an arm around her, as he always had with her sisters and with Maeve. He hadn’t been able to wait with Patsy Finucane.” Passion — and its absence — thus is expertly delineated.

Trevor has been turning out masterful stories for so long now that his genius is easy to take for granted. He makes it look effortless, this writing of exquisite tale after exquisite tale, each one different, each one the same. Set mainly in rural Ireland in the recent or the long-ago past, they record the moment when ordinary people become reconciled to their fate. In “Selected Stories,” each one is a small, precise jewel, so quietly and unobtrusively displayed on the dark cloth of its design that you almost forget it was written at all. The stories seem to be objects drawn directly from an ancient landscape, rinsed and polished, their edges sharp from the chisel’s blunt cut.

There are stories that bristle with menace and dread, such as “Gilbert’s Mother,” and stories that throb with forbidden love, such as “The Potato Dealer.” There are stories whose ominous implications strike only after you’ve finished them and moved away, such as “Folie a Deux.”

Trevor once called the short story “an explosion of truth.” The truths in his work — 12 collections of short stories, 14 novels — can at times seem bitter and harsh, but in the end, they dignify human striving and human suffering as nothing else does in quite the same way. His fiction spins straw into gold, turns sorrow into beauty.