It was the ice cyclone of 1862, and evergreen trees were encased in ice as if the Gods hoped to encapsulate nature in crystal! Winters in the northeastern region of the United States are equally stunning yet brutal. My horses were tired, for the noble steeds had been drawing my carriage north, as I peddled my wares at port cities along the coast of our great nation.
Sun was setting, lighting the ice as if ‘twas on fire! Beautiful it may have been, but howling winds carried a temperature of barely a degree over zero! Business in Boston had been brisk as the weather, as I sold my tinctures and potions by the crate.
I had been warned that I might not reach lodgings before nightfall, but I was eager to meet my importer at the docks 33 miles ahead. Far be it from me to fear the elements, and map in hand, I sought a shorter cut through the woods. However, I had tempted Old Man Winter to try his hand where others failed, to claim the life of Chet Manly himself!
As the bitter night set in, I encouraged my horses by leaping down from my seat and drawing the carriage alongside them! I whinnied and stomped hooves alongside them, blinders on us all, forging forward, knowing that stopping would be our deaths.
Like a beacon of hope, I saw a light before me. At first, I worried this was a touch of madness, as I had experienced it once before adrift in the South Seas. But fortune was mine once again, this was lamplight ahead!
It was a large stone building, few windows, though lit just the same. An armory or seminary perhaps, a massive place with nothing else for miles.
“Greetings and Salutations” I shouted, for the hour was late, yet despite my dire circumstance, politeness must be forever maintained.
Shadows darted in the windows. Were I not in my native land, I would have feared hostility. But this was the great state of Massachusetts, and it’s people are notoriously warm and gentle beneath their sarcastic jocularity.
Cloaked figures darted outside, running to my aid. They ran first to my horses, instinctively knowing the beasts of burden needed rest, and not as vital as myself. Leading the loyal creatures to the barn, other figures ushered me towards the building to escape the unforgiving snow.
Indoors, I was brought to the hearth, and what a lovely inferno roared forth! I basked in the glow and the heat like a Roman god brewing lava from a volcano! Only then, relieved from the biting cold, did I get a look at my hosts, as they removed their cloaks. Women! All and only women! I assumed this to be a nunnery. I saw no depictions of The Prophet Jesus or Biblical paintings, and surmised it was a strict faith, possibly vows of silence were part of their discipline, humble living without ornamentation.
“Chet Manly is my name! Dispenser of fine goods, for the grooming of men!”
They smiled, as most women do upon meeting me, and I expect they were baffled yet curious that I provided beauty products not for women, but for men! I am a man of innovations!
“Ah, you young ladies are far from the luxuries of modern times, but your basic provision of fire and shelter has saved my life! How may I express my gratitude? Perhaps, come morning, I could chop a cord of wood!”
The generous women all traded smiles hadn’t spoken a word yet, as I expected, their silence a means of maintaining a spiritual state. But it was then I noticed they did not wear clothing I had seen before in my travels. Rather, they wore runes and cryptic symbols. Intrigue gripped me. Witchcraft is something I do not fear, for I know that power lies within!
Far be it from me to tell a soul what God to pray to, for I have met holy men from around the globe, and all prescribe to varying beliefs. But these women truly worshipped a deity whose customs were foreign to me! The women shed their cloaks, and did not stop there! It would seem they were not lacking in food or firewood– What these ladies needed satiating was carnal desire! For hour upon hours, bacchanal orgy continued!
Come morning, I remember little, as I was rushed out, my usefulness spent!
I had not slept a wink! My horses fed and rested, I was grateful, for it was a night like none other, but I had to present myself to the chief buyers at a chain of drugstores in Worcester, and my eyes looked like suitcases packed with cow cakes!
But I am Chet Manly. I was Chet Manly then, and Chet Manly now! My eye cream ever at the ready, applied to my eyes, hid all evidence of a night of no sleep!
Thus, it was both enlightening and refreshing to learn the importance of removing baggy eyes.
Throughout my youth, I’ve been the object of desire by many a woman. And while age has a sexiness all it’s own, not all of its subtleties invoke passion. Wrinkles can boast the scars of experience, but drooping bags under the eyes, not at all! On the road again, my hardworking and happy eyes sparkled with confidence.