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"Ministers Of Grace"
by [?]

Although he was scarcely yet out of his teens, the Duke of Scaw was already marked out as a personality widely differing from others of his caste and period. Not in externals; therein he conformed correctly to type. His hair was faintly reminiscent of Houbigant, and at the other end of him his shoes exhaled the right SOUP�ON of harness-room; his socks compelled one’s attention without losing one’s respect; and his attitude in repose had just that suggestion of Whistler’s mother, so becoming in the really young. It was within that the trouble lay, if trouble it could be accounted, which marked him apart from his fellows. The Duke was religious. Not in any of the ordinary senses of the word; he took small heed of High Church or Evangelical standpoints, he stood outside of all the movements and missions and cults and crusades of the day, uncaring and uninterested. Yet in a mystical- practical way of his own, which had served him unscathed and unshaken through the fickle years of boyhood, he was intensely and intensively religious. His family were naturally, though unobtrusively, distressed about it. “I am so afraid it may affect his bridge,” said his mother.

The Duke sat in a pennyworth of chair in St. James’s Park, listening to the pessimisms of Belturbet, who reviewed the existing political situation from the gloomiest of standpoints.

“Where I think you political spade-workers are so silly,” said the Duke, “is in the misdirection of your efforts. You spend thousands of pounds of money, and Heaven knows how much dynamic force of brain power and personal energy, in trying to elect or displace this or that man, whereas you could gain your ends so much more simply by making use of the men as you find them. If they don’t suit your purpose as they are, transform them into something more satisfactory.”

“Do you refer to hypnotic suggestion?” asked Belturbet, with the air of one who is being trifled with.

“Nothing of the sort. Do you understand what I mean by the verb to koepenick? That is to say, to replace an authority by a spurious imitation that would carry just as much weight for the moment as the displaced original; the advantage, of course, being that the koepenick replica would do what you wanted, whereas the original does what seems best in its own eyes.”

“I suppose every public man has a double, if not two or three,” said Belturbet; “but it would be a pretty hard task to koepenick a whole bunch of them and keep the originals out of the way.”

“There have been instances in European history of highly successful koepenickery,” said the Duke dreamily.

“Oh, of course, there have been False Dimitris and Perkin Warbecks, who imposed on the world for a time,” assented Belturbet, “but they personated people who were dead or safely out of the way. That was a comparatively simple matter. It would be far easier to pass oneself of as dead Hannibal than as living Haldane, for instance.”

“I was thinking,” said the Duke, “of the most famous case of all, the angel who koepenicked King Robert of Sicily with such brilliant results. Just imagine what an advantage it would be to have angels deputizing, to use a horrible but convenient word, for Quinston and Lord Hugo Sizzle, for example. How much smoother the Parliamentary machine would work than at present!”

“Now you’re talking nonsense,” said Belturbet; “angels don’t exist nowadays, at least, not in that way, so what is the use of dragging them into a serious discussion? It’s merely silly.”

“If you talk to me like that I shall just DO it,” said the Duke.

“Do what?” asked Belturbet. There were times when his young friend’s uncanny remarks rather frightened him.