Han Ling didn’t know how he entered the palace gate, nor how he sat in front of the desk.
His seat was in the front row, and a palace servant brought him paper, pen and ink, but he didn’t dare to look up at the imperial face even once.
Everyone knew that the emperor was sitting there, which made them both excited and terrified.
You c an fi nd t he la te st cha pte rs at ( th e ir on tr ee bl oo ms. c o m )
Although they all made it onto the golden list of candidates who passed the top imperial examinations, no one knew what their final results would be.
On the day of the announcement, Han Ling was waiting at the inn for the messenger to announce the good news, but he heard that there was a person who threw himself into the river after finding out that he was not on the list posted on the announcement board that day.
It was not that his body had become dispirited, but the mind which had become dejected.
After three years passed, it was estimated that this person would not come to Beijing to take the test again.
After answering the exam essay question, Han Ling and the others have to go back and wait for another two days.
Song Shizhao sat at the head seat under Lin Yuan and looked at the papers of his disciple. His disciple was known as a child prodigy. After reading it over, he had a general understanding.
Lin Yuan asked him, “How about the 2nd rank (TN: 4th place and up)?”
Song Shizhao sighed in his heart, the essay was indeed good, but it could only be said that it was not bad.
That child was too prudent, and instead lost the sharp edges of the youth, and ended up being mediocre.
“Your Majesty is wise.” Song Shizhao saluted.
Lin Yuan: “Rise, come and read these three essays.”
Song Shizhao sat back again and took the three essays handed over by Lin Yuan.
Each had its own style, but they all shared one characteristic. They were determined to forge ahead and show their sharp edges. Although the focus was different, even appearing a little immature, each word had impact. He thought about the words carefully, and actually felt a sudden flash of enlightenment.
“Who do you see as the first place?” Lin Yuan asked.
Song Shizhao pointed to one of them: “This one is coherent, rational and well thought out, and considers both the beginning and the end, this official congratulates Your Majesty on finding a rising talent!”
Lin Yuan smiled and said, “Sure enough, the monarch and the minister are of the same mind, Zhen has also decided on him.”
When entering the palace again, Han Ling’s mindset was no longer the same as that of before.
The students all wore official uniforms, crowns on their heads, and stood outside the Daming Hall.
After waiting for a while, Song Lian led them into the Daming Hall, where they lined up on two sides and stood respectfully to listen to the reciting of the final ranking.
When the palace eunuch sang “First rank, first place” Han Ling’s hand was already clenched into a fist.
But when he really heard his name, his whole person was stunned and his ears kept buzzing, thinking it was a dream.
Before he could return to his senses, all the students had already knelt down and shouted “Long live my emperor”. Fortunately, his body was not as dazed as his brain. When others knelt, he knelt too.
The top three were all immediately awarded official positions.
Han Ling was awarded the position of compiler at Hanlin Academy, and Li Linqing and Meng He, 2nd and 3rd place respectively, were awarded the positions of editor at Hanlin Academy.
The 2nd rank meritorious candidates had to be tested again, but this time it was not Lin Yuan, but Song Lian, and they would then be admitted to the Hanlin Academy as Shuji Shi (TN: title of the temporary position in the Hanlin Academy, conferred to meritorious candidates until the next examination) according to their grades.
As for the 3rd rank meritorious candidates, they could only go back and wait for news to see if they would stay in Beijing or would be sent out to other parts of the empire.
Then these people would be given imperial horses and could make a round around the palace gate on horseback.
The common people would stop and watch the parade.
Han Ling wore a golden embroidered black gauze hat and a red robe on his body. He held the imperial edict in one hand, and stepped on the stirrups and rode the horse at the forefront.
The parade was naturally not too fast. This was the first place meritorious candidate of the new dynasty, which was of great significance. The people automatically and spontaneously threw flowers, and there were also women who threw aromatic silk handkerchiefs and sachets.
After ten years of bitter hard work, in fact, after carefully counting back how could it just be ten years?
When he could speak, he must recite books, and when he could walk, he must learn to hold a brush.
Seeing the surging crowd, Han Ling wanted to laugh and cry.
Laugh because he was finally getting what he wanted.
Cry because his parents and family weren’t able to see this scene.
And Li Linqing behind him was extremely relaxed and leisurely. He was born with better looks than Han Ling. Han Ling was already in his thirties. At his age, he could be called young and promising for gaining the top spot, but Li Linqing was younger. He was in his early twenties, his face was as white as jade, his stature was thin and tall, and his eyes conveyed passion. Most of the silk handkerchiefs and sachets thrown by the women on the road were aimed at him.
As for Meng He, he was the eldest of the three. He was in his forties. He was neither outstanding nor ugly, but his strong face with a square jaw always had advantages. Just by looking at his face, one could feel that this person was honest and upright.
Only the 1st rank meritorious candidates could parade the streets, the 3nd rank and 3rd rank meritorious candidates have all returned to the inns and courtyards they rented, and those who were capital people would naturally go home.
The common people celebrated all day, and in the evening, there were still taverns offering wine, named Zhuangyuan Wine. (TN: Zhuangyuan=top scorer in the palace examination)
Some of the candidates who made it onto the golden list were happy and some were sad, but most of the candidates from poor families were happy. They cupped their hands at each other and exchanged congratulations.
Han Ling drank wine all night, and reported to Hanlin Academy the next day.
Along with him were the second and third scorers.
The three of them chatted happily.
But soon, Li Linqing was taken away, and by Zheng Qingfeng, to the Court of Censors.
Both Han Ling and Meng He felt sorry for Li Linqing.
After all, as the saying goes, prime ministers come from Hanlin. Now that he has left Hanlin, his future…..
Li Linqing soon started to live very busy days where his feet barely rested from the ground.
His parents also didn’t expect their son to get second place in the imperial exam. After all, this son had always been a slacker in his studies since he was a child, and now suddenly he scored 2nd in the exam. They kept feeling that their son must have used some back-handed means, maybe he had even cheated.
This frightened his parents.
After all, although the Li family was an aristocratic family, the whole family was rather timid.
The kind that would ponder and think about it for a few years when deciding whether to do a bad thing. When they have finally finished thinking about it, there wasn’t any need to do it anymore.
So the Li family had never made a mistake, just going downhill in terms of wealth and influence.
Zhao Lin also didn’t expect Li Linqing to pass the exam. He himself only won the 86th place in the 2nd rank. Although this was enough, when he thought of Li Linqing passing the exam in 2nd place, he just couldn’t figure it out.
It was nothing strange if it was someone else, but he knew Li Linqing!
In the end, Li Linqing couldn’t stand the pestering of Zhao Lin and his parents, so he wrote down his answer for the palace exam. After his father and Zhao Lin read it, they were finally silenced.
Zhao Lin fell silent out of shock, his father out of fright.
But luckily it turned out well in the end.
After reading it, his father was still trembling: “You, you are too bold! You never thought that if this essay angered His Majesty, then our whole family would then be completely finished?!”
Li Linqing didn’t care: “His Majesty is not a narrow-minded person. Brother Zhao told me that His Majesty regards everyone in the world as a useful person. Since this is the case, he would naturally be tolerant of people speaking freely.”
The topic of the palace exam was “official”.
He didn’t write how to become a good official, or what he would do after becoming an official.
But how to manage officials.
Prevent officials from covering up for each other and combat bad habits in officialdom.
He attacked almost all the dirty tricks and unwritten rules that were tacitly agreed upon within the officialdom.
And he also put forward a suggestion that almost scared his father to death——disallowing officials in the same region to make marriage alliances.
Listing various hidden dangers brought by marriage alliances among officials.
For example, when officials from the same region get married, they were clearly of several different surnames, but they would eventually become one surname.
Bound together for good or ill, prosperity or hardship, and all kinds of shady business coming as a result of this.
After reading Li Linqing’s answer sheet, Zhao Lin said with admiration, “I’m not as good as you.”
When he answered, what he wrote was how to be a good official.
Now that he thought about it, he just felt that it was quite mediocre, and he was very lucky to be able to get 2nd rank, 86th place.
Li Linqing waved his hand and said, “Brother Zhao, why belittle yourself? It’s not too late to see through it now, there is still a shortage of people in the Court of Censors!”
It was really short of people, too short of people!
He was able to go to the Court of Censors because Lin Yuan suggested him. After seeing his essay, Zheng Qingfeng felt that he suited the position, and he also asked him privately for his opinion before he was then dispatched to the Court of Censors.
As for the others, most of them shunned the Court of Censors, because as long as anyone possessed a working brain they would know that this was a new department that was the enemy of all civil and military officials. Putting aside how much power this department had, but just speaking of what this department had to do. It was basically being the public enemy number one of the several other departments.
The Court of Censors was an isolated island, and apart from the emperor, there was no other ally.
And no one had a clue where promotion led to, the future unclear.
Zheng Qingfeng didn’t like people who had such thoughts.
If one wanted to enter the Court of Censors, their temperament must be first class, and they have to possess the daring to risk the enmity of the world.
But there were too few people willing to enter the Court of Censors.
Even Han Ling felt unsure about it.
Except for the scribes in the Court of Censors now, there were only Zheng Qingfeng, him and Hong Xiu.
What could three people do?
And His Majesty stepped back and let them recruit people themselves, so Li Linqing thought of Zhao Lin.
Zhao Lin was a son of an aristocratic family, and since childhood, he had grown up in the official circles.
And he was not a fool. Although he was not extremely smart, he was not a fool who only knew how to recite from books.
He also followed Zhou Rong in creating simplified characters before.
He had the experience and the background, the only thing that was slightly lacking was temperament and ability.
One’s ability needed to be tempered, but one’s temperament was innate.
Li Linqing asked him, “Brother, do you dare?”
Zhao Lin hesitated, he didn’t know, he still wanted to enter Hanlin.
But Li Linqing asked him again: “Brother, whose hands can you find the Imperial Sword to be in?”
Zhao Lin answered without thinking, “In the hands of the emperor?”
Li Linqing asked him again, “What is the Imperial Sword?”
Zhao Lin replied: “It is the power to punish the traitor and the filth, granted by the imperial power.”
Li Linqing raised his head and said, “The Court of Censors is the Imperial Sword in the hands of the emperor!”
Zhao Lin was shocked.
Li Linqing changed his appearance from the past, and the young man was full of a youthful heroic spirit: “Brother, do you want to wait bitterly for your seniority to rise in Hanlin, or follow your brother, turn into a sword in His Majesty’s hand, and slash at corrupt and traitorous officials!”
Zhao Lin bit his lip, thought hard for a long time, and finally said, “In this case, I will accept your invitation.”
Li Linqing held Zhao Lin’s hand: “The promise of a gentleman.”
Zhao Lin looked into Li Linqing’s eyes: “Will never waver in this life!”
Father Li slumped on the ground and muttered, “Crazy, crazy!”
How did he give birth to such a fearless and audacious son?!
Father Li hurriedly told his old wife: “In the future, we will live behind closed doors, and must not let people grab a hold onto a weakness. I can’t control that unfilial son. But we must not be implicated by him.”
His old wife was also very worried: “Qing’er is still young, I’m just afraid of him being deceived…..”
Father Li’s eyes widened: “Deceived? The way I see it, he’s already so arrogant that he has even forgotten his own name!”
You c an fi nd t he la te st cha pte rs at ( th e ir on tr ee bl oo ms. c o m )
Suddenly, Li Linqing’s voice came from outside: “Dad, your son remembers, my surname is Li, my name is Linqing, and my courtesy name is Lezhi.”
Father Li: “Scram!”
After a while, Li Linqing’s voice came from outside again, but this time it was much smaller: “Father, your son has scrammed.”
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