CHAPTER V. THE MONGOL CONQUEST OF CHINA
The Mongols seem to have thought that the war was over, and the success of Chang Chikia's efforts may have been due to their negligence rather than to his vigor. As soon as they realized that there remained a flickering flame of opposition among the supporters of the Sungs they sent two armies, one into Kwantung and the other into Fuhkien, and their fleet against Chang Chikia. Desperate as was his position, that officer still exclaimed, "If heaven has not resolved to overthrow the Sungs, do you think that even now it cannot restore their ruined throne?" but his hopes were dashed to the ground by the capture of Canton, and the expulsion of all his forces from the mainland. One puppet emperor died, and then Chang proclaimed another as Tiping. The last supporters of the cause took refuge on the island of Tai in the Canton estuary, where they hoped to maintain their position. The position was strong and the garrison was numerous; but the Mongols were not to be frightened by appearances. Their fleet bore down on the last Sung stronghold with absolute confidence, and, although the Chinese resisted for three days and showed great gallantry, they were overwhelmed by the superior engines as well as the numbers of the Mongols. Chang Chikia with a few ships succeeded in escaping from the fray, but the emperor's vessel was less fortunate, and finding that escape was impossible, Lousionfoo, one of the last Sung ministers, seized the emperor in his arms and jumped overboard with him. Thus died Tiping, the last Chinese emperor of the Sungs, and with him expired that ill-fated dynasty. Chang Chikia renewed the struggle with aid received from Tonquin, but when he was leading a forlorn hope against Canton he was caught in a typhoon and he and his ships were wrecked. His invocation to heaven, "I have done everything I could to sustain on the throne the Sung dynasty. When one prince died I caused another to be proclaimed emperor. He also has perished, and I still live! Oh, heaven, shall I be acting against thy desires if I sought to place a new prince of this family on the throne?" sounded the dirge of the race he had served so well.
Thus was the conquest of China by the Mongols completed. After half a century of warfare the kingdom of the Sungs shared the same fate as its old rival the Kin, and Kublai had the personal satisfaction of completing the work begun by his grandfather Genghis seventy years before. Of all the Mongol triumphs it was the longest in being attained. The Chinese of the north and of the south resisted with extraordinary powers of endurance the whole force of the greatest conquering race Asia had ever seen. They were not skilled in war and their generals were generally incompetent, but they held out with desperate courage and obstinacy long after other races would have given in. The student of history will not fail to see in these facts striking testimony of the extraordinary resources of China, and of the capacity of resistance to even a vigorous conqueror possessed by its inert masses. Even the Mongols did not conquer until they had obtained the aid of a large section of the Chinese nation, or before Kublai had shown that he intended to prove himself a worthy Emperor of China and not merely a great Khan of the Mongol Hordes.