Nikolayev hated the cat, wet socks, and his mother-in-law. The socks would get wet because his boots had holes, the mother-in-law would nag him for having made short work of her daughter’s happiness, and the cat just peed in his cap if he dozed off on the floor. Taking on his mother-in-law was pointless. That sprightly old gal could easily dodge an oven fork brandished in her direction; she checked the stools to make sure a leg hadn’t been sawn through; and she never drank tea that Nikolayev had brewed.
The sock thing was worse.
His mother-in-law knitted the socks, so he had to humiliate himself by filching from her stash. She counted them and made notches on the windowsill for any that were stolen. When the tally topped a half-dozen pairs, she would start whining for money or promising to call in the local constable. The windowsill was slashed and scored like a lace doily.
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