14.

By the time Tetsuya stopped talking, they had reached the carpentry workshop.

Thank you for your company,’ he said to the boy.

But the boy did not leave.

How can I know if I’m doing the right thing? How can I be sure that my eyes are concentrating, that my posture is elegant, that I’m holding the bow correctly?’

Visualise the perfect master always by your side and do everything to revere him and to honour his teachings. This master, whom many people call God, although some call him ‘the thing’ and others ‘talent’, is always watching us. He deserves the best.

Remember your allies too: you must support them, because they will help you at those moments when you need help. Try to develop the gift of kindness: this gift will allow you to be always at peace with your heart. But, above all, never forget that what I have told you might perhaps be words of inspiration, but they will only make sense if you experience them yourself.’

Tetsuya held out his hand to say goodbye, but the boy said:

One other thing, how did you learn to shoot a bow?’

Tetsuya thought for a moment: was it worth telling the story? Since this had been a special day, he opened the door to his workshop and said:

I’m going to make some tea, and I’m going to tell you the story, but you have to promise the same thing I made the stranger promise - never tell anyone about my skill as an archer.’

He went in, put on the light, wrapped his bow up again in the long strip of leather and placed it out of sight. If anyone stumbled upon it, they would think it was just a piece of warped bamboo. He went into the kitchen, made the tea, sat down with the boy and began his story.