‘D For Donkey’ is the last of my children’s stories written for Malvern City Council.
This piece was inspired by the legend of hard-working donkeys who carried sick people up the Malvern Hills.
Hope you enjoy!
D For Donkey
There were not many donkeys in Malvern.
But of those there were, none worked harder than Jack and Jenny.
Day in and day out, Jack and Jenny carried the very sick and the very ill up the Malvern Hills on their backs.
Those people who had come to Malvern to drink the freshest and purest water in all the lands.
Who had come to Malvern to get better.
And, because of the hard work of Jack and Jenny, every single one of them did.
But for all this hard work, day in and day out, Jack and Jenny got no thanks.
It was not the fault of the poor sick people, for they were so ill that they could not even talk.
It was the fault of a boy, and only a boy.
Mean in every sense, this boy pushed Jack and Jenny harder and harder, every trot of their travels.
Jack and Jenny called this boy Grumble, for all he did was grumble, grumble, grumble.
With a wispy beard just starting to grow, and eyes blacker than any donkey’s, Grumble was an unpleasant young boy, indeed.
And because of Grumble, Jack and Jenny were never allowed to drink the pure waters of Malvern.
So one day, as they carried a pair of very sick gentleman up the Hills, with Grumble walking as far away to the side as he could, Jenny thought up a plan.
“Psssst,” said Jack, in a voice quiet enough that Grumble could not hear. “Psssssst.”
“Don’t you dare,” said Jenny. “Don’t. You. Dare.”
“Don’t do it, Jack.”
“With my little eye…”
“Don’t make me hoof you.”
“Something beginning with…”
“Don’t be silly, Jenny. Nothing begins with donkey.”
“D for Donkey,” said Jenny. “It’s donkey.”
There was a slight pause, and then Jack asked: “How did you know?”
“It’s always donkey,” said Jenny. “We’ve played this game over a hundred times, and it’s always D for Donkey. You’d think you never looked at anything else.”
“Maybe it wasn’t going to be…” said Jack.
“Was it?” asked Jenny. “What did you spy?”
“…a donkey,” said Jack. “I spied you.”
“And you always do,” said Jenny.
Then, Jack and Jenny’s fun was spoilt, as Grumble shouted at them to trot faster up the Hills.
Having no choice, they did so, edging closer and closer to the camel’s humps of the Hills.
Until, eventually, Jack and Jenny reached a stream, trickling gently in the sun.
Here, the two very ill gentleman stumbled off Jack and Jenny’s backs and drank the water which would cure them of all their aches and pains.
But because of Grumble, Jack and Jenny could go no further.
They could only watch the ill men drink, and wish that they could taste the water themselves.
“Jack, I’ve got a plan,” said Jenny.
“A plan?” asked Jack. “Does it involve donkeys?”
“It involves two very special donkeys,” said Jenny. “Two very special donkeys called Jack and Jenny.”
“That’s us!” said Jack. “What are we going to do?”
“We’re going to drink the water,” said Jenny. “Finally, we’re going to drink the water.”
“But how?” asked Jack. “We’re not sick. And we’re only donkeys, after all. Grumble will never let us.”
“We may not be sick, but we’re exhausted, Jack. Don’t tell me you’re not tired too.”
“I am,” said Jack.
“All those trips up and down the Hills. I don’t mind, these people need our help. But surely we deserve one little sip?” asked Jenny.
“But how are we going to get past Grumble?” asked Jack.
“By using Donkey Attack Mode,” said Jenny, with a wink.
“Donkey Attack Mode?” asked Jack. “We can do that?”
“Follow my lead,” said Jenny.
Then, putting her plan into action, Jenny slowly began to trot towards Grumble, her tail swishing from side to side.
“Hello,” she said, but all Grumble heard was “BRRRRRRRR”.
“What d’you want?” said Grumble. “Get away, now.”
Jenny was going nowhere.
Jenny knew that the real reason Grumble worked her and Jack so hard, and why he always walked so far away.
Grumble hated donkeys.
He hated their soft fur, gentle to the touch, thinking it was dirty and disgusting.
He hated their majestic legs, which helped so many, thinking they were stumpy and silly.
And he hated their smell.
There was nothing Grumble hated more than the perfume of a donkey. Though, secretly, he smelled a million times worse.
Jenny was going to use this to her advantage.
She sidled up to Grumble, circling him with an extra spring in her step and spreading her scent.
Immediately, she could see Grumble’s discomfort.
Then, Jack followed suit, letting Grumble breathe in the smell he could not stand.
It took only a matter of seconds before Grumble was running for the Hills, screaming “No! No! Not this! Not donkeys!”
And now there was nothing keeping Jack and Jenny from the famous water they so desperately wanted to drink.
So they gave each other a donkey high five, knocking hooves against one another in the most clumsy of actions.
Then, they approached the stream. Beautiful, flowing water of the clearest crystal blue.
The two ill gentleman were now practically glowing. They chatted and smiled and walked as well as if nothing had ever been wrong.
With Grumble there not to stop them, these two gentleman thanked Jack and Jenny, patting them on their heads and caressing their manes.
And then they returned to town, leaving Jack and Jenny in peace.
“Pssst,” said Jack, breaking the silence. “Pssssst.”
“Really?” asked Jenny. “You’re going to do this now?”
“I suppose you’ve earned it.”
“With my little eye…”
“Something beginning with D…”
“Donkey,” said Jenny. “It’s donkey.”
“Nope,” said Jack, a smug smile on his face.
“What do you mean nope? Then what is it?” asked Jenny.
“You have to guess.”
“Fine… Damp. Dark. Day. Dirt. Doctor. Document. Dog.”
“Really, Jenny? Do you see any dogs?”
“I don’t know!” said Jenny. “I hate this game. What is it?”
“It’s a drink,” said Jack. “I see a drink for both of us, Jenny.”
So Jack and Jenny drank deep from that stream and felt refreshed.
They tasted the water, cool against their tongues.
All the exhaustion, all the tiredness they had felt all disappeared.
They felt as if they could carry thousands more people up the Hills so that they could feel the same.
And then, without Grumble to wear them out, that is exactly what Jack and Jenny did.
Day in and day out, they carried the very sick and the very ill up the Hills to that very same stream.
But now, Jack and Jenny drank with them.