(notes edited by John McGivering)

Publication history

First published in The Week’s News of 14 January 1888 and collected in the first English editions (paper and hard-back) of Soldiers Three the same year.

The story

This is a story in which nothing is quite what it seems. Two brothers, Durga Dass and Ram Dass, are identical twins, so alike that no-one can tell them apart. Both are money-lenders, a dangerous profession.

On Durga Dass’s account, his brother has deliberately exploited the likeness. Durga Dass has been taken for his brother and beaten up by the servants of a rich landowner. Pretending to help him Ram Dass has brought a case to court. obtained damages on his brother’s behalf, and made off with all the money. Finally he has stolen his brother’s savings and disappeared. Durga Dass is asking for justice from the English Sahib. But it is hard for an Englishman to see where the truth lies in this tangled tale.

Critical comments

This story has attracted little attention from the critics. Norman Page (pp.91 92) cites The Quarterly Review which likens “Gemini” to the central situation in Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors. Knowles (p.120) gives us the actual wording of The Quarterly which somewhat sardonically calls it: a most laughable version of the play.

Notes on the Text

[Title] Gemini means ‘the twins’ in Latin. The ‘Heavenly Twins’, Castor and Pollux,were by ancient tradition the founders of Rome. ‘Gemini’ is a prominent constellation in the Zodiac – see “The Children of the Zodiac” (Many Inventions) and “A Doctor of Medicine” (Rewards and Fairies).

[Page 265, line 8] astrologer one who studies the constellations and casts horoscopes ; see below and “The Sending of Dana Da” later in this volume.

[Page 265, line 9] horoscope an observation of the planets and stars at the moment of a person’s birth which is supposed by astrologers to foretell the events of his life. See Kim, Chapter 2.

[Page 265, line 13] Mahajun Hindi, from Sanskrit ‘great person’ – a banker and merchant. (Hobson-Jobson)

[Page 265, line 13] Marwar another name for Jodhpur, a State of Rajputana – see “Letters of Marque XII” in From Sea to Sea, Vol. I

[Page 265, line 17] Isser Jang not traced.

[Page 266, line 1] Mark trade sign.

[Page 266, line 1] bunnia shopkeeper, trader or merchant, or, as in this case, a moneylender.

[Page 266, line 3] Montgomery Multen District, Punjab, about 100 miles south-west of Lahore and 350 north of Pali.

[Page 266, line 19] a pice a small copper coin, one-quarter of an anna and so one sixty-fourth of a rupee.

[Page 266, line 33] Nawab from the Hindi, later corrupted to ‘Nabob’, an Indian ruler; see Hobson-Jobson p.610 for the derivation.

[Page 267, line 4] lakh one hundred thousand, usually understood to signify Rupees.

[Page 268, line 3] Phagun the eleventh month, corresponding with February and March in English.

[Page 268, line 6] lac-bangles ornaments for wrist and ankle, made of a variety of materials, including silver, glass and iron, etc. [We suspect they were decorated with shellac but cannot find a reference; Ed.]

[Page 268, line 17] staves these were the famous lathi of India, made from male bamboo, about 5 feet (1.52M) long and bound with iron or wire.

[Page 268, line 32] swear on the Cow’s Tail the cow is sacred to Hindus.

[Page 269, line 20] the Justice of the Sicar the law of the Government of India.

[Page 269, line 24] Jeysulmir in West Rajputana.

[Page 269, line 25] Gurgaon fifty miles or so south of Delhi.

[Page 269, line 25] Gogunda fifteen miles south of Udaipur in Rajasthan.

[Page 270, line 7] Belial this devil appears in Deuteronomy 13,13 and Milton’s Paradise Lost.

[Page 270, line 9] I would purchase witnesses as explained in the text below, they would be bribed to give false evidence – see ”The Bronckhorst Divorce-Case” (Plain Tales from the Hills) and “Little Foxes” (Actions and Reactions).

[Page 270, line 15] two hundred rupees A substantial sum. In his early days on the CMG Kipling earned 350 rupees a month.

[Page 270, line 29] colic and gripings spasmodic pains in the abdomen with occasional constipation (Black).

[Page 272, line 13] five hundred rupees See 270/15 above.

[Page 272, line 31] Mahadeo perhaps a variant of Mahadeva – “The Great God Shiva,” the third of the Hindu Trimurti (Trinity) regarded as the Destroyer of Life: mentioned in the lullaby in “Toomai of the Elephants” (The Jungle Book) and many of the Indian stories.

[Page 273, line 5] jujube-tree a shrub ( Zizyphus) of the buckthorn family, the fruit of which is dried as a sweetmeat. Also a lozenge made of gum and sugar in imitation of the fruit.

[Page 274, line 4] the jat one of a race of cultivators in the Punjab; another, with his baby son, appear in the illustration opposite p.268 of Kim.

[Page 274, line 13] a cowrie’s value Cypræa – a small mollusc, the shells of which were used as currency in Asia and elsewhere.

[Page 275, line 32] hide-sellers they, and the leather-workers, were low-caste – ranking very low in the social scale.

[Page 276, line 2] three annas about threepence.

[Page 276, line 27] baba Stunt Sahib the very young Assistant Collector.

[Page 277, line 5] Dipty Sahib the Deputy Collector.

©John McGivering 2005 All rights reserved