Four, Three, Two, One
Mar 12, 2012 06:11 AM
by Mark Jaqua
I thought the following short fantasy (although pretty long for a post)
was a really unusual bit of writing by Smythe from his early years. A.E.S.
Smythe was undoubtedly the key figure in the Canadian Theosophical scene for
50 plus years, from joining the T.S. in 1892(?) and also Judge and Besant's
E.S., until his death in 1947 (see Davy's "Theosophy in Canada," Edmonton
T.S., 2011, for a 45 pp. bio.) He was the long-serving General Secretary of
the Canadian Section and Editor of the "Canadian Theosophist" and newspaper
man. Early on he was in Katherine Tingley's T.S. (Tingley was probably the
only one eclectic enough to print this fantasy) and a lecturer, but left,
was a member of Hargrove's Society for a while, I believe, before becoming
active in the Adyar T.S. He probably would have been much better known among
Theosophists outside of Canada, and published more than a total of 2
articles in 50 yrs in "The Theosophist," but he was pro-William Judge and
anti-Neo-Theosophy, as was nearly the whole Canadian T.S. for 80 years or
- jake j.
FOUR, THREE, TWO, AND ONE
- Albert E.S. Smythe
AS I went on my way through the Enchanted Land, I saw two of the quaintest
fellows I had ever dreamed about. They were some way ahead of me, and as I
had not yet seen anyone who could tell me anything I wanted to know, I ran
after them and shouted.
They swung around and faced me, and I was puzzled to see that they always
kept a little distance apart, but with always the same distance between
them, as if, indeed, each held a hand of the same invisible companion.
"How do you do?" I said.
"How do we do?" said one of them. "He doesn't do a thing," said the other.
"We do it all," they both shouted, and then laughed so much that I grew
quite red in the face and thought them very rude.
"He thinks we have no manners," said one of them.
"Neither we have," said the other.
"Isn't it jolly?" they both shouted, and one catching hold of my right hand,
the other my left, they swung me around in such a swift and giddy dance that
the flowers and the grass and the sky and the clouds all got tangled up in
great coils of red and green and white and blue ropes, whirling and spinning
in endless circles. I was so dizzy when they stopped that I staggered about
and had to sit down. They stood beside me and laughed so much I felt sure
they could not have any ribs, as mine always ached distressfully if I
laughed half so much.
"Why do you laugh like that?" I asked them.
"Why do we laugh?" they shouted, and immediately went into such an
uproarious fit I was afraid something might happen. It did not seem right to
laugh so much, almost. I was even afraid I might get over my indignation and
begin to laugh also, and I was quite certain that if I did I should need a
"He hasn't seen us cry," said one.
"Nor laugh on the other side of our mouths," said the other.
"Do you cry as badly as you laugh?" I asked.
"Of course we do, " they replied.
"Please don't then."
"Oh, we won't; we were crying just a little while ago. Generally one of us
laughs while the other cries, but that never occurs except with strangers.
Didn't you feel miserable when you were climbing the Far Hills?"
"Yes," I said; "dreadfully."
"Well, we were crying then, and so we had to laugh when you came here, and
couldn't see Number One."
"What's Number One?" I asked.
"Oh, you're a silly," said one of them. "You were dancing with Number One
just now. We are Two and Three. You are number Four. Can't you see Number
One between us?"
"No," I replied, "I can only see the air."
"And you can't see that, you stupid. But if you will try and tell the truth
we can show you lots of things, and perhaps you can learn to see Number
"Which of you is Two and which is Three?" I inquired.
"Either you please," said one of them. "Sometimes I am Two and sometimes I
am Three. But you are always Four, and One is always one."
"Have you no other names? I have another name than Four,'' I said.
"Yes; I am Mister Cause, and this is Master Consequence. Or if you like I am
Master Consequence and he is Mister Cause."
"We are both each other," said his quaint companion.
"I am everybody's Daddy," said one of them.
"I am everybody's Sonnyman," said the other.
"I am Day,'' said the first.
"And I am Night," said the other.
"And I am Night," said the first.
"And I am Day," said his fellow. And so they began such a chant that I
cannot remember the tenth part of it, and my head quite reeled with the
confusion and the extent of it all. For they seemed to exchange places and
characters with each response, and they assumed so many and so various forms
and appearances that the whole world seemed to pass before me in a vision.
"I am Birth."
"And I am Death."
"And I am Death."
''And I am Birth."
"I am Past."
"And I am Future."
"I am Future."
"And I am Past."
And so they continued until they seemed to have named and represented all
the things and all the ideas I had ever heard of, and far more that I had
not, all of them arranged in couples and all of them apparently
interchangeable. At last they stopped with a repetition of the names they
"I am Mister Cause."
"And I am Master Consequence."
"And I am Master Consequence."
"And I am Mister Cause."
"I am the Daddy."
"And I am the Sonnyman."
"And I am the Sonnyman."
"And I am the Daddy."
"Have you quite finished?" I asked when they ceased.
"Oh dear, no! We are the Twins of May. We go on forever," cried one. "If we
didn't, we would be suspended. You remember we told you that we did it all?"
"Yes," I admitted, ''but I wasn't sure if you were not joking."
"We never joke," he replied.
"Not when you laugh as you did?"
"That was a most serious matter," he said.
"Well, it was," I conceded. "You are a queer couple. Still, if you can tell
me something about the Enchanted Land I shall be very much obliged."
"Don't mention it," said one, "for there is nothing to tell. You must just
go with us and see it all. We can show you everything. That is what Number
One keeps us for.''
"And does Number One go with us?" I asked.
"I told you he was between us. If Number One wasn't here we couldn't be
together. Number One takes our hands and we take yours, you see. Would you
like another dance?
"Not just yet," I said, though I felt that I would like to see everything
change into coils of colored rope again.
"Sometimes people can see Number One in the dance," remarked one of them; I
never was quite sure which of them spoke. ''
"Is that the only way to see Number One?"
"No, there is another way."
"What is it?" I enquired, for I was strangely curious, and longed to look on
the face of this Invisible and Silent One.
"You must become a Number One yourself," they said.
"But is that possible?"
"For some it is," answered one. "For all it will be," said the other.
"And how can it be so?"
"When the First is Last and one lives for others," they told me.
"Has Number One any other name?"
"Yes; many others. Love and Justice, and Karma, and Fate, and Mercy, and
Providence, and The Law, and a host of others. But those who speak these
names often forgot that Number One always holds our hands, and can only be
found between us."
"And which of the Names do you like best?" I asked them.
"We have no desire,'' said they. "We see with clear eyes."
"But you have better names?" I persisted.
And one said, "There is Life, and to it belong Peace and Eternity. "
And the other said, "There is the ever unfolding Beauty."
"And Life and Beauty are two of the names?"
"These are two of the names," they said.
And I went forth with them, and I dwell in the Enchanted Land, Number Four
with these three, and three of us are shadows.
(Un. Brotherhood, Aug., 1898)
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