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About Modestine


Stevenson’s trip would not have been the same without Modestine.
And the very title of his work, Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, places the donkey at the heart of his adventure.
Modestine was a true travelling companion for Stevenson who observed her closely and wrote '…to draw the cart a diminutive she-ass, not much bigger than a dog, the colour of a mouse, with a kindly eye and a determined under-jaw. There was something neat and high-bred, a quakerish elegance, about the rogue that hit my fancy on the spot.'
At the outset Stevens on referred to Modestine as ‘… only an appurtenance of my mattress, or self-acting bedstead on four castors’ whose slow pace initially angered the writer. But as the journey went on he grew increasingly attached to his companion, culminating in a painful separation at the end of his trip. ‘I had lost Modestine. Up to that moment I had thought I hated her; but now she was gone', 'For twelve days we had been fast companions', 'Her faults were those of her race and sex; her virtues were her own', ‘after I had sold her in my turn (…) I did not hesitate to yield to my emotion.’.


A closer look at us


Our ancestors are Nubians (Upper Egypt) and Somalians.
Our oldest ancestors lived on the banks of the Euphrates in the Sumerian kingdom. In fact we have been accompanying and serving Man for over 5000 years!

Unfortunately we have a poor reputation for being stubborn and stupid... Mr. Buffon, a naturalist, thinks that this is because our ancestral education was given by children and servants and not by adults, unlike our horse cousins, who were judged far more worthy of interest than we were...

Today, donkey masters train us (very nicely) and we are always good travelling companions. But, we will always try to ‘test’ you: by stopping for a blade of grass along the way or rolling over even when fully laden... like a young child it is important to be firm from the outset, firm but nevertheless kind.

We can be very obedient but we are intelligent (oh yes!) and adapt to the person leading us. This is why it is vital that when children want to lead a donkey the first steps should be with help from an adult, who must be the leader for the first day of the walk.

We are excellent companions: gentle and friendly and quickly become the centre of any group, we will even stop to wait for anyone who has fallen behind.

 

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