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Clovis's Misfortune

Clovis's Misfortune

A Story by David Darabian

A tale about a donkey and his journey to see the king


His tears fused with the rain and his cry was the sound of thunder. His heart was broken, his courage shattered and he was ridiculed, for he was mule. He had travelled for days and weeks with only one thing on his mind, to see the king whom he’d heard could set the wrong things right. He was tired of being ridiculed; he wanted to be back as his former self, to recover what had been stolen from him, and to be respected.


The trail through the mountains had turned into a treacherous slippery slope when the rain first started. More than once he’d thought that his last moment had come, but stubbornness had proved to be a virtue and eventually the land had flattened out and the mountains lay behind him. Everywhere he’d heard their laughter, even through the most perilous sandy storms or shrieking winds with lashing rainfall he’d heard them, following him like a horrible ghoul making sure he never forgot. When he came by a stream to still his thirst he saw a reflection he didn’t recognize. Eyes looked back at him through hollow sockets; tired eyes filled with remorse, his fur was ragged and with the past week’s scant rations it hung from him like a loose sack of weave. For a moment he just stared at his reflection, barely believing the thinned face belonged to him. I’ll get through this. He told himself and buckled down and took a few gulps of the fresh water. Vultures had begun to circle above during the last few days, no doubt due to the miserable shape he was in. How had it come to this? He’d had it all… His thoughts drifted away when he stared at his rippling reflection. The king would fix it, if he was as righteous and strong as he’d heard. The long journey had taken its toll but in the end it would be all worth it. The dreaded thought that lurked in the back of his head had seeped out more than once and as the distance closed to his goal it became more frequent. While his tears rippled the water the thought reappeared. What if the stories are false, what if he doesn’t grant me an audience, what if it’s all in vain? He forced the thought away.

“He will see me!” He said out loud in an attempt to convince himself.


The remainder of the day consisted of an endless walk towards where the sun disappeared under the horizon. The laughter at his back had decreased in strength with the nearing nightfall and when he reached a peak on the hill he’d started upon an hour earlier he saw the massive heights of the King’s Cliff. Like an array of daggers the heights peaked and rounded and peaked again in a full circle. With the disappearing sun the peaks cast fang-like shadows on the savannah below, swallowing gazelles and wildebeests, zebras and rhinos in its massive jaw. He figured that most would find the view haunting but he just smiled and began his decent.


The lioness had looked at him with pity when he’d walked up to her. She had been standing by the great entrance to the path that snaked up between the two largest peaks leading up to the king. When he had explained his matter she had hesitated for a moment as if to say something but then she seemed to have changed her mind and motioned for him to follow. It was past midday and the intense heat from the sun scorched his already aching back, he could only imagine how he miserable must look.

“It’s not much longer.” She said where she stood waiting for him to catch up. He hadn’t even noticed that he’d fallen behind. Every limb in his body ached and he struggled not to topple over.

“Thanks,” he said in a weak and hoarse voice when he caught up with her. She continued on slower this time and turned her head every now and then to see if he still moved till she reached a large arch in the cliff. When he walked up beside her he saw that the arch was full of carved drawings of humans hunting wildebeests and other larger animals. In the room was a large rock with a flattened top on which the sun shone from a large crevice in the roof. Even though it was in the middle of the day the room was mostly covered in shade.

“Wait here,” she said and ran into the darkness. After a moment she returned. “He’s waiting for you. Just follow the left wall and it’ll take you to him.

He nodded and thanked her before he took a few tracing steps into the room. It felt good to be out of the scorching sun and when his eyes adjusted he followed the left wall as the lioness had told him to. The room was larger than he’d first thought. He soon came to another opening, sloping downwards in a small corridor. When he came to its end and he began to wonder whether he was on the right track a powerful voice spoke to him.

“Please enter.”

Sitting on the far side of the room with two lionesses on either side was the king. He looked so awe-inspiring that it took a while for him to collect himself and do as the king was bidding.

“What is your name, my dear donkey?”

“My name was Clovis. Now I am no one.”

A sad expression grew over the king’s face when he heard this. “Tell me what ails you, Clover.”

The donkey formally known as Clovis took a deep breath before he began. “The story is as long as it is sad and it has been my deepest wish to share it with you, Sire, so that you may decide to put the wrong things right, or not.”

And so began Clovis’s story.


“Like you, Sire, I was a king of my domain and my domain was the sandy dunes. I could travel wherever I pleased and I was treated with respect. My limps were as agile as a rabbit and as strong as an ox and I could survive the most hazardous sandy storms without so much as a blister on my feet. Only one small group never gave me the courtesy I deserved and whenever I travelled past their den I could feel their sinister stares on my back as clear as the sand under my feet. I had heard that these malicious beasts laughed at others misfortune, stole from the poorest of creatures and that they were the most conniving in the animal kingdom, but never did I think it all true, for who could be so cruel?”

“Hyenas,” the king said with disgust.

Clovis nodded and swallowed hard before he continued. It was hard to keep his emotions in check but he mustered up all the dignity he had left and continued with the story.

“For all their scheming and conniving I never imagined that they had a plan for me. You see, as I’ve told you I too was a king. I was called the Sar-ha King, the king of the dunes.”

The king got to his feet when he heard this and motioned for the two lionesses at his side to leave. When they were alone the king walked up and began to circle around him. He saw that the king’s eyes lingered on his jarred and scorched back and when the king returned to stand in front of Clovis their eyes met.

“You don’t remember me.” The king said.

At this Clovis got confused and started to search his memory, but he found nothing. “Sire?”

The king brushed it aside. “I’ll tell you after you finish your story. Please continue.”

 Clovis’s thoughts were flying in a dozen directions at once after the king’s last remark but he couldn’t recall meeting with him before. He gathered his thoughts once more and continued with his story.

“The hyena pack had a leader called Kraut. He was easy to spot among the others since he had grey line that ran across his spine on his otherwise charcoal coloured fur. Kraut was feared by all, including the members of his own pack and he was known for his mischievous ideas. There is no doubt in my mind that the plan they had made up for me came from inside his head. Anyway, all creatures feared him, besides me. And I curse my own stupidity for that! One cloudy night when I was passing their den they invited me to drink by their waterhole. It came as a surprise since they’ve never even spoken to me before, but naïve as I was I reckoned that they finally wanted to recognize me and to start treating me with respect. Such folly, I know, but you have to understand that I’d lived a safe life in the dunes for so long that I couldn’t even think what they had in store for me. I accepted their invitation and was brought to a waterhole not too far from here. As I had hoped I was greeted with respect and I sincerely began to think that these beasts were misunderstood. We ate and laughed together, but Kraut kept his distance. Whenever I looked in his direction he smiled at me but his eyes remained cold. As the night grew darker my stomach grew bigger and I began to feel tired.


Normally I spend my nights alone in the desert but this night I wanted to spend with my newfound friends. I bid them all good night and found a place to rest a bit away from the festivity. When I woke up next morning all that was left of the band was the sound of laughter in the wind. Something felt terribly wrong but it wasn’t until I went to drink and gazed at my reflection that I understood that I had been robbed. My back, which always had been curvaceous like the dunes of the desert, was as flat as a pond! These beasts had stolen my hump, the one thing that made me who I am. In desperation I searched everywhere but with my hump gone I didn’t last long before I needed to rest, drink and regain my strength. When I told others of my ill fate and my need for help they laughed in my face and called me a donkey. It didn’t take long before my gold shimmering fur greyed and I lost hope. I became the laughingstock for so many and never was anything I said taken serious. Everywhere I went I got laughed at, and whenever I came close to a hyena, no matter what band, they laughed and chased me off. I’m the laughingstock of the world and I need your help to get my hump back.”  Clovis finished and looked at the king who was sitting a few feet away.


“I remember you from when I was very young,” the king said after a moment of silence as if he brooded over what to say. “You gave me shade and helped me back to the plains. It is your eyes that I recognize. Even though they are dulled and tired it’s still the same eyes. Eyes never change.”

With this Clovis’s face brightened in recognition. “Littl’ Mandrake?” 

The king nodded and flashed a smile. “I’ll be glad to help you, Sar-ha king, so that no one will laugh at you anymore.”

With that the king ordered his lions to spread the word to all the animals in the kingdom so that Kraut and his band would be found and the hump brought back.

© 2010 David Darabian

My Review

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I thought this was pretty good. I think more obstacles would help though. Maybe a run in with Kraut and his pack. Also, a few typos but that is easily taken care of. I honestly thought in the beginning of the story that Clovis was going to see the King of the Jews and that the story would end up with him being the donkey in the manger at Jesus' birth. The way you describe the King as righteous and Clovis wondering if he would be granted an audience.
But a great story nonetheless.

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Just one more thing. I think you had Clovis reiterate one too many times the fact that he didn't know what Kraut and his pack had in store for him. And yeah, I promise to be honest same as you.

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I thought this was pretty good. I think more obstacles would help though. Maybe a run in with Kraut and his pack. Also, a few typos but that is easily taken care of. I honestly thought in the beginning of the story that Clovis was going to see the King of the Jews and that the story would end up with him being the donkey in the manger at Jesus' birth. The way you describe the King as righteous and Clovis wondering if he would be granted an audience.
But a great story nonetheless.

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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3 Reviews
Added on January 18, 2010
Last Updated on January 18, 2010


David Darabian
David Darabian

Stockholm, Sweden

My name is David Darabian. I'm born and raised in a town called Lund in Sweden and I like most of you guys here I love creativity. Let's inspire each other! ...Yeah I know, lousy presentation. Not p.. more..

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