There was a war on the Mikhailovs’ farmstead. Eighteen-year-old Ksenia wanted to get married.
– For whom? For this slob? mother screamed. – A drunkard, a lazy man, and you want to drown yourself behind him?
The tearful girl was silent.
– Come on, Elena, give the child a break, – Uncle Peter, a good-natured and quiet man, could not stand it. Rarely when he dared to object to his wife, he understood well that it was useless.
– Weren’t you young? And what to take from Andrey – a calm guy, and I’ve never seen him drunk.
– Haven’t you seen it? Aunt Lena shouted. – And when there’s a wedding in the village, it can’t do without him.
– Well, what are you, – Uncle Peter muttered, – it doesn’t matter if sometimes he knocks over a glass on a holiday.
“Where there’s one, there’s another,” she said, as if she’d cut it off. – And I don’t want to give my child to a tramp! And they don’t have a house, but a shack, the garden is overgrown with weeds.
– Oh, do what you want, – unable to withstand this onslaught, Uncle Peter waved his hand, – I’d better go mow.
Having lost this weak support, Ksenia wiped her tears with a handkerchief. Seeing such grief, Aunt Elena felt sorry for her daughter. About an hour later, putting a conciliatory arm around Xenia’s shoulders, she asked:
– Do you love?
“Yes,” the girl sobbed.
–So get married,– she decided. – Only I won’t let you go anywhere from me, we are already old, we need help.
She made a noise, the wedding was off, and the son-in-law came to the Mikhailovs’ yard. The young people were given half of the house, and although the kitchen was shared, Ksenia felt like a real hostess. Only Aunt Lena did not let up. Then the son-in–law, having shaved, leaves a dirty razor on the kitchen table, then he scattered his clothes, then he looked somehow wrong, then …
– A poor bastard,” Aunt Lena muttered, passing by Andrey.
–Lazy,” she swore when her unloved son–in-law, leaning on his scythe, lit a cigarette.
Rumors spread through the village.
– Is it true that your Andrey does nothing, just lies on the couch and watches TV? – a neighbor once asked Ksenia, meeting her on the way to the store.
– No, he’s on the field with his father from morning to evening, – Ksenia was genuinely surprised.
– Is it true that he drinks vodka like water? – the neighbor did not subside. – And then he gets angry and threatens to kill his mother-in-law?
– Who said that? – the girl could not come to herself again.
“People are talking,– she replied. – Your mother complains to everyone, says that he even chased her with an axe.
Annoyed, Ksenia hurried home. Andrey was just about to chop wood when Ksenia rushed to him, panting from running.
“Get ready, let’s go live with your parents,” she said.
– Why? What happened? – Andrey was confused.
–Go pack your things,– she said bitterly. – I’ll explain later.
Andrey shrugged his shoulders, and still went into the house.
Ksenia hurriedly packed her things, mentally saying goodbye to her native walls. She threw dresses and shirts into a suitcase, rolled a sheet and pillowcases from the bed into a bundle. Yes, they probably would have left without saying goodbye if Elena hadn’t suddenly arrived.
– Where are you going? – she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
– To the father–in-law with his mother-in-law, – sobbed Xenia.
“She’s crazy,– Aunt Lena stated. – Where to? To this shack?
– Yeah, – and the album that the godparents gave to the young ones flew into the open suitcase. The photos scattered on the floor, Ksenia knelt down and began to collect the pictures.
– I want to be kind to you, daughter, – Aunt Lena stroked her daughter on the head like a little child.
– Do you want to? Her daughter’s voice was trembling with tears. – Is it good to lie about Andrey? Is it a concern to spread gossip around the village? Do you want to separate us? It won’t work.
– Where to? – mother blocked the way. – In someone else’s house, so that people poke their fingers? I won’t let you, that’s all!
Ksenia silently walked around her mother.
The village has been talking about this scandal for a long time. They pitied both Ksenia and Andrei, and most of all Uncle Peter, for living with such a snake. They said that when he came home from the field and did not find either his daughter or son-in-law, he just sighed and sat down to dinner. “Apparently, Elena is holding him tightly under her heel,” people laughed.
And what about Aunt Lena? She swore that her matchmakers would not have her legs. But as Ksenia gave birth to her son, she thawed out.
She came to the christening, visits, tinkers with her grandson. But he still looks askance at his son- in – law…