The story's protagonist, Grigori Tsybukin, runs the local grocery store but supplements his income by selling homebrewed vodka on the sly. Grigori's family—consisting of his wife Varvara, his sons Anisim and Stephan, and his "handsome" daughter-in-law Aksinia—aid him in his entrepreneurial endeavors. In particular, Aksinia is designated as Tsybukin's second-in-command, which encourages the young woman to think that she might become the heir to his business. Although many locals congratulate Grigori on his good fortune in life and the merits of his daughter-in-law, not everyone expresses such good humor.
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