Travels With a Donkey in the Cévennes
In 1878, Robert Louis Stevenson, author of classics such as Kidnapped and Treasure Island, embarked on a walking tour of the Cévennes, a mountainous region in south-central France. His travelling companion was Modestine, a diminutive donkey with a mind of her own who, over the course of the journey, bore some of his provisions and much of his rancour. Modestine and Stevenson tramped without plan or purpose through scenic villages and fearsome forests—reportedly infested with man-eating wolves—depending on peasants, Trappist monks and passersby for supplies, shelter and directions. They were beset by storms and unhelpful residents, but were also granted views of splendid vistas and cold, clear nights. And, over twelve days, 200 kilometres, and many shared adventures, Stevenson came to love his obdurate, manipulative little companion.