Newly appointed master Zjing was settling into her position in the Spider’s Clan. A few things had changed with the arrival of young abbots Aki and Haru, each taking strong control on the methods of the teams they were assigned.

They knew the most dangerous times would be right upon their arrival, when their new method would first be slowing down the team as they adjusted, and the young abbots wanted to prove themselves and please their masters most quickly.

Indeed the Chief Abbot was asking Zjing what she thought of the junior abbots, so he would know what to teach them next, and if necessary how to correct them.

Zjing told him to come in the courtyard at dusk.

— — —

After a hard day of labor, the old monk Shinpuru was rounding up his day by tending to the two shrubs he was given.

“Good evening, old monk,” said the Chief Abbot. “How is it going with the two young abbots we sent you? I heard you have projects in the care of each of them, so surely you will be able to compare and comment.”

“Please come see my two gardens,” was Shinpuru’s only reply.

The Chief Abbot was already thinking Shinpuru fool and lazy, and as he was ready to mock the old monk, an eye at Zjing’s stick and menacing eyes hinted him to say nothing and bow his agreement.

— — —

Passing the first garden, the Chief Abbot noted “It is a fine lawn, its order pleases me, but there is nothing of note to say here.”

“The same can be said of Haru,” replied Shinpuru.

Passing the second garden, the Chief Abbot noted “It is a beautiful, if messy flowerbed. I can see potential in this one, if kept under tight control.”

“The same can be said of Aki,” replied Shinpuru. “Though I’m not sure about control.”

“Are you not the gardener? Don’t you bend Nature to your will?” was the Chief Abbot’s reply.

“A few of these details are of my own doing,” said Shinpuru. “But most are Nature’s hand at work. I would be foolish to deem myself the leader of these flowers, nor would have I managed to create such beauty if I had an idea at first.

“If I wanted to stick to this idea, I would have felt miserable in trying to preserve a plan that couldn’t work. Instead Nature showed me the way.”

— — —

The Chief Abbot was still silently pondering these words when Zjing thanked Shinpuru, bowed, and left for the night.