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The First Battle

The War With The Sultan

The Sultan Mohammed


Death Of The Sultan

Vang Khan

Pastoral Life In Asia

Dominions Of Genghis Khan

Progress Of The Quarrel

Rupture With Vang Khan

The Fall Of Bokhara

Yezonkai Khan

The Story Of Hujaku

Battles And Sieges

Temujin In Exile

Victorious Campaigns

Establishment Of The Empire

The Death Of Vang Khan

The Death Of Yemuka

Grand Celebrations

Rupture With Vang Khan


Erkekara.--State of the country.--Wandering
habits.--Yemuka.--Sankum.--Yemuka's intrigues with
Sankum.--Deceit.--Temujin's situation.--His military
expeditions.--Popular commanders.--Stories of Temujin's
cruelty.--Probably fictions.--Vang Khan's uneasiness.--Temujin.--Vang
Khan's suspicions.--A reconciliation.--Fresh suspicions.--Plans
laid.--Treachery.--Menglik.--Menglik gives Temujin warning.--The
double marriage.--Plans frustrated.--Temujin's camp.--Karasher.--Vang
Khan's plans.--His plans betrayed by two slaves.--How the slaves
overheard.--A council called.--Temujin plans a stratagem.

Temujin remained at the court, or in the dominions of Vang Khan, for a
great many years. During the greater portion of this time he continued
in the service of Vang Khan, and on good terms with him, though, in
the end, as we shall presently see, their friendship was turned into a
bitter enmity.

Erkekara, Vang Khan's brother, who had usurped his throne during the
rebellion, was killed, it was said, at the time when Vang Khan
recovered his throne. Several of the other rebel chieftains were also
killed, but some of them succeeded in saving themselves from utter
ruin, and in gradually recovering their former power over the hordes
which they respectively commanded. It must be remembered that the
country was not divided at this time into regular territorial states
and kingdoms, but was rather one vast undivided region, occupied by
immense hordes, each of which was more or less stationary, it is true,
in its own district or range, but was nevertheless without any
permanent settlement. The various clans drifted slowly this way and
that among the plains and mountains, as the prospects of pasturage,
the fortune of war, or the pressure of conterminous hordes might
incline them. In cases, too, where a number of hordes were united
under one general chieftain, as was the case with those over whom Vang
Khan claimed to have sway, the tie by which they were bound together
was very feeble, and the distinction between a state of submission and
of rebellion, except in case of actual war, was very slightly defined.

Yemuka, the chieftain who had been so exasperated against Temujin on
account of his being supplanted by him in the affections of the young
princess, Vang Khan's daughter, whom Temujin had married for his third
wife, succeeded in making his escape at the time when Vang Khan
conquered his enemies and recovered his throne. For a time he
concealed himself, or at least kept out of Vang Khan's reach, by
dwelling with hordes whose range was at some distance from Karakorom.
He soon, however, contrived to open secret negotiations with one of
Vang Khan's sons, whose name was something that sounded like Sankum.
Some authors, in attempting to represent his name in our letters,
spelled it Sunghim.

Yemuka easily persuaded this young Sankum to take sides with him in
the quarrel. It was natural that he should do so, for, being the son
of Vang Khan, he was in some measure displaced from his own legitimate
and proper position at his father's court by the great and constantly
increasing influence which Temujin exercised.

"And besides," said Yemuka, in the secret representations which he
made to Sankum, "this new-comer is not only interfering with and
curtailing your proper influence and consideration now, but his design
is by-and-by to circumvent and supplant you altogether. He is forming
plans for making himself your father's heir, and so robbing you of
your rightful inheritance."

Sankum listened very eagerly to these suggestions, and finally it was
agreed between him and Yemuka that Sankum should exert his influence
with his father to obtain permission for Yemuka to come back to court,
and to be received again into his father's service, under pretense of
having repented of his rebellion, and of being now disposed to return
to his allegiance. Sankum did this, and, after a time, Vang Khan was
persuaded to allow Yemuka to return.

Thus a sort of outward peace was made, but it was no real peace.
Yemuka was as envious and jealous of Temujin as ever, and now,
moreover, in addition to this envy and jealousy, he felt the stimulus
of revenge. Things, however, seem to have gone on very quietly for a
time, or at least without any open outbreak in the court. During this
time Vang Khan was, as usual with such princes, frequently engaged in
wars with the neighboring hordes. In these wars he relied a great deal
on Temujin. Temujin was in command of a large body of troops, which
consisted in part of his own guard, the troops that had come with him
from his own country, and in part of other bands of men whom Vang Khan
had placed under his orders, or who had joined him of their own
accord. He was assisted in the command of this body by four
subordinate generals or khans, whom he called his four intrepids. They
were all very brave and skillful commanders. At the head of this troop
Temujin was accustomed to scour the country, hunting out Vang Khan's
enemies, or making long expeditions over distant plains or among the
mountains, in the prosecution of Vang Khan's warlike projects,
whether those of invasion and plunder, or of retaliation and

Temujin was extremely popular with the soldiers who served under him.
Soldiers always love a dashing, fearless, and energetic leader, who
has the genius to devise brilliant schemes, and the spirit to execute
them in a brilliant manner. They care very little how dangerous the
situations are into which he may lead them. Those that get killed in
performing the exploits which he undertakes can not speak to complain,
and those who survive are only so much the better pleased that the
dangers that they have been brought safely through were so desperate,
and that the harvest of glory which they have thereby acquired is so

Temujin, though a great favorite with his own men, was, like almost
all half-savage warriors of his class, utterly merciless, when he was
angry, in his treatment of his enemies. It is said that after one of
his battles, in which he had gained a complete victory over an immense
horde of rebels and other foes, and had taken great numbers of them
prisoners, he ordered fires to be built and seventy large caldrons of
water to be put over them, and then, when the water was boiling hot,
he caused the principal leaders of the vanquished army to be thrown
in headlong and thus scalded to death. Then he marched at once into
the country of the enemy, and there took all the women and children,
and sent them off to be sold as slaves, and seized the cattle and
other property which he found, and carried it off as plunder. In thus
taking possession of the enemy's property and making it his own, and
selling the poor captives into slavery, there was nothing remarkable.
Such was the custom of the times. But the act of scalding his
prisoners to death seems to denote or reveal in his character a vein
of peculiar and atrocious cruelty. It is possible, however, that the
story may not be true. It may have been invented by Yemuka and Sankum,
or by some of his other enemies.

For Yemuka and Sankum, and others who were combined with them, were
continually endeavoring to undermine Temujin's influence with Vang
Khan, and thus deprive him of his power. But he was too strong for
them. His great success in all his military undertakings kept him up
in spite of all that his rivals could do to pull him down. As for Vang
Khan himself, he was in part pleased with him and proud of him, and in
part he feared him. He was very unwilling to be so dependent upon a
subordinate chieftain, and yet he could not do without him. A king
never desires that any one of his subjects should become too
conspicuous or too great, and Vang Khan would have been very glad to
have diminished, in some way, the power and prestige which Temujin had
acquired, and which seemed to be increasing every day. He, however,
found no means of effecting this in any quiet and peaceful manner.
Temujin was at the head of his troops, generally away from Karakorom,
where Vang Khan resided, and he was, in a great measure, independent.
He raised his own recruits to keep the numbers of his army good, and
it was always easy to subsist if there chanced to be any failure in
the ordinary and regular supplies.

Besides, occasions were continually occurring in which Vang Khan
wished for Temujin's aid, and could not dispense with it. At one time,
while engaged in some important campaigns, far away among the
mountains, Yemuka contrived to awaken so much distrust of Temujin in
Vang Khan's mind, that Vang Khan secretly decamped in the night, and
marched away to a distant place to save himself from a plot which
Yemuka had told him that Temujin was contriving. Here, however, he was
attacked by a large body of his enemies, and was reduced to such
straits that he was obliged to send couriers off at once to Temujin to
come with his intrepids and save him. Temujin came. He rescued Vang
Khan from his danger, and drove his enemies away. Vang Khan was very
grateful for this service, so that the two friends became entirely
reconciled to each other, and were united more closely than ever,
greatly to Yemuka's disappointment and chagrin. They made a new league
of amity, and, to seal and confirm it, they agreed upon a double
marriage between their two families. A son of Temujin was to be
married to a daughter of Vang Khan, and a son of Vang Khan to a
daughter of Temujin.

This new compact did not, however, last long. As soon as Vang Khan
found that the danger from which Temujin had rescued him was passed,
he began again to listen to the representations of Yemuka and Sankum,
who still insisted that Temujin was a very dangerous man, and was by
no means to be trusted. They said that he was ambitious and
unprincipled, and that he was only waiting for a favorable opportunity
to rebel himself against Vang Khan and depose him from his throne.
They made a great many statements to the khan in confirmation of their
opinion, some of which were true doubtless, but many were
exaggerated, and others probably false. They, however, succeeded at
last in making such an impression upon the khan's mind that he finally
determined to take measures for putting Temujin out of the way.

Accordingly, on some pretext or other, he contrived to send Temujin
away from Karakorom, his capital, for Temujin was so great a favorite
with the royal guards and with all the garrison of the town, that he
did not dare to undertake any thing openly against him there. Vang
Khan also sent a messenger to Temujin's own country to persuade the
chief persons there to join him in his plot. It will be recollected
that, at the time that Temujin left his own country, when he was about
fourteen years old, his mother had married a great chieftain there,
named Menglik, and that this Menglik, in conjunction doubtless with
Temujin's mother, had been made regent during his absence. Vang Khan
now sent to Menglik to propose that he should unite with him to
destroy Temujin.

"You have no interest," said Vang Khan in the message that he sent to
Menglik, "in taking his part. It is true that you have married his
mother, but, personally, he is nothing to you. And, if he is once out
of the way, you will be acknowledged as the Grand Khan of the Monguls
in your own right, whereas you now hold your place in subordination to
him, and he may at any time return and set you aside altogether."

Vang Khan hoped by these arguments to induce Menglik to come and
assist him in his plan of putting Temujin to death, or, at least, if
Menglik would not assist him in perpetrating the deed, he thought
that, by these arguments, he should induce him to be willing that it
should be committed, so that he should himself have nothing to fear
afterward from his resentment. But Menglik received the proposal in a
very different way from what Vang Khan had expected. He said nothing,
but he determined immediately to let Temujin know of the danger that
he was in. He accordingly at once set out to go to Temujin's camp to
inform him of Vang Khan's designs.

In the mean time, Vang Khan, having matured his plans, made an
appointment for Temujin to meet him at a certain place designated for
the purpose of consummating the double marriage between their
children, which had been before agreed upon. Temujin, not suspecting
any treachery, received and entertained the messenger in a very
honorable manner, and said that he would come. After making the
necessary preparations, he set out, in company with the messenger and
with a grand retinue of his own attendants, to go to the place
appointed. On his way he was met or overtaken by Menglik, who had come
to warn him of his danger. As soon as Temujin had heard what his
stepfather had to say, he made some excuse for postponing the journey,
and, sending a civil answer to Vang Khan by the embassador, he ordered
him to go forward, and went back himself to his own camp.

This camp was at some distance from Karakorom. Vang Khan, as has
already been stated, had sent Temujin away from the capital on account
of his being so great a favorite that he was afraid of some tumult if
he were to attempt any thing against him there. Temujin was, however,
pretty strong in his camp. The troops that usually attended him were
there, with the four intrepids as commanders of the four principal
divisions of them. His old instructor and guardian, Karasher, was with
him too. Karasher, it seems, had continued in Temujin's service up to
this time, and was accustomed to accompany him in all his expeditions
as his counselor and friend.

When Vang Khan learned, by the return of his messenger, that Temujin
declined to come to the place of rendezvous which he had appointed, he
concluded at once that he suspected treachery, and he immediately
decided that he must now strike a decisive blow without any delay,
otherwise Temujin would put himself more and more on his guard. He was
not mistaken, it seems, however, in thinking how great a favorite
Temujin was at Karakorom, for his secret design was betrayed to
Temujin by two of his servants, who overheard him speak of it to one
of his wives. Vang Khan's plan was to go out secretly to Temujin's
camp at the head of an armed force superior to his, and there come
upon him and his whole troop suddenly, by surprise, in the night, by
which means, he thought, he should easily overpower the whole
encampment, and either kill Temujin and his generals, or else make
them prisoners. The two men who betrayed this plan were slaves, who
were employed to take care of the horses of some person connected with
Vang Khan's household, and to render various other services. Their
names were Badu and Kishlik. It seems that these men were one day
carrying some milk to Vang Khan's house or tent, and there they
overheard a conversation between Vang Khan and his wife, by which
they learned the particulars of the plan formed for Temujin's
destruction. The expedition was to set out, they heard, on the
following morning.

It is not at all surprising that they overheard this conversation, for
not only the tents, but even the houses used by these Asiatic nations
were built of very frail and thin materials, and the partitions were
often made of canvas and felt, and other such substances as could have
very little power to intercept sound.

The two slaves determined to proceed at once to Temujin's camp and
warn him of his danger. So they stole away from their quarters at
nightfall, and, after traveling diligently all night, in the morning
they reached the camp and told Temujin what they had learned. Temujin
was surprised; but he had been, in some measure, prepared for such
intelligence by the communication which his stepfather had made him in
respect to Vang Khan's treacherous designs a few days before. He
immediately summoned Karasher and some of his other friends, in order
to consult in respect to what it was best to do.

It was resolved to elude Vang Khan's design by means of a stratagem.
He was to come upon them, according to the account of the slaves,
that night. The preparations for receiving him were consequently to be
made at once. The plan was for Temujin and all his troops to withdraw
from the camp and conceal themselves in a place of ambuscade near by.
They were to leave a number of men behind, who, when night came on,
were to set the lights and replenish the fires, and put every thing in
such a condition as to make it appear that the troops were all there.
Their expectation was that, when Vang Khan should arrive, he would
make his assault according to his original design, and then, while his
forces were in the midst of the confusion incident to such an onset,
Temujin was to come forth from his ambuscade and fall upon them. In
this way he hoped to conquer them and put them to flight, although he
had every reason to suppose that the force which Vang Khan would bring
out against him would be considerably stronger in numbers than his

Next: Progress Of The Quarrel

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