The beginning of the journey was hard and rather unpleasant for us both.

For the whole of the first day, from Le Monastier to Le Bouchet, a distance of twenty-five kilometres over steep country roads, baked in hot golden dust, Robert Louis Stevenson had endless and humiliating trouble with his donkey, Modestine. She refused to climb hills, she shed her saddle-bag at the least provocation, and in villages she swerved into the cool of the beaded shop doors. He was forced to beat her relentlessly, first with his own walking cane, and then with a thorn switch cut from a hedge by a peasant on the long hill up to Goudet.

At Costaros, the villagers even tried to intervene, taking the side of French donkey against foreign tyrant: ‘Ah,’ they cried, ‘how tired she is, the poor beast!’

White into Black
Village of Cats