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Translated by : shl
Edited by : Anks & Ely
The new year had just begun, and the days seemed to carry within them the hint of spring. The sun had actually shone brightly for a few days, and the capital was especially bustling with noise and excitement. An atmosphere of joy was everywhere.
However, the students of the Imperial Academywere in no mood to enjoy the happy atmosphere of the new year, as they were all preparing for the preliminary round of the imperial examinationstaking place in less than two weeks' time. Within the academy, the students were busily discussing strategy, while in the courtyard outside, the Master of Recordswas in conversation with the Chancellor of the Academy.
Guo zi lan ( 国子监 ) - Imperial Academy, the highest educational body in Imperial China.
Ke kao ( 科考 ) - the imperial examinations, a civil service examination system in Imperial China to select candidates for the state bureaucracy. The origins of the open examination system are in the early Han dynasty when wise rulers figured out that the way to avoid officials building power bases from their family and friends was to appoint on basis of talent and intellectual merit and not on wealth or family ancestry.
 Zhu bu ( 主薄 ) - Master of Records, an ancient title for the government official who was in charge of the books, seals, official court documents etc, something like a secretary to the Emperor. Depending on the dynasty, he would have a fair amount of power.
 Ji jiu ( 祭酒 ) - the title of an important government official; research suggests this was someone who would supervise the highest educational body.
"This lowly official thinks that there are several promising candidates in this round of the examination," Master of Records Song mentioned as he glanced within the building.
Chancellor Chen was just forty years of age, but his hair was streaked with grey, giving him a sage-like appearance and poise. He stroked his beard and said, "Come, tell me what you think."
"Mo Cong, Wang Zi Ling and Liu Min," replied Recorder Song. He muttered, almost to himself, "These three have achieved exemplary results, whether it pertains to the Four Books, the Five Classics, the Law, or the Art of Mathematics."
 Si shu ( 四书 ) - lit., Four Books. Namely: the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, the Analects of Confucius, and Mencius.
Wu jing ( 五经 ) - the Five Classics of Confucianism. Namely: the Book of Songs, the Book of History, the Classic of Rites, the Book of Changes, and the Spring and Autumn Annals.
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