CHAPTER V. THE MONGOL CONQUEST OF CHINA
There are several interesting fables in connection with the birth of Genghis, which event may be safely assigned to the year 1162. One of these reads as follows: "One day Yissugei was hunting in company with his brothers, and was following the tracks of a white hare in the snow. They struck upon the track of a wagon, and following it up came to a spot where a woman's yart was pitched. Then said Yissugei, 'This woman will bear a valiant son.' He discovered that she was the damsel Ogelen Eke (i.e., the mother of nations), and that she was the wife of Yeke Yilatu, chief of a Tartar tribe. Yissugei carried her off and made her his wife." Immediately after his overthrow of Temujin, chief of one of the principal Tartar tribes, Yissugei learned that the promised "valiant son" was about to be born, and in honor of his victory he gave him the name of Temujin, which was the proper name of the great Genghis. The village or encampment in which the future conqueror first saw the light of day still bears the old Mongol name, Dilun Boldak, on the banks of the Onon. When Yissugei died, Temujin, or Genghis, was only thirteen, and his clan of forty thousand families refused to recognize him as their leader. At a meeting of the tribe Genghis entreated them with tears in his eyes to stand by the son of their former chief, but the majority of them mocked at him, exclaiming, "The deepest wells are sometimes dry, and the hardest stone is sometimes broken, why should we cling to thee?" Genghis owed to the heroic attitude of his mother, who flung abroad the cow-tailed banner of his race, the acceptance of his authority by about half the warriors who had obeyed his father. The great advantage of this step was that it gave Genghis time to grow up to be a warrior as famous as any of his predecessors, and it certainly averted what might have easily become the irretrievable disintegration of the Mongol alliance.
The youth of Genghis was passed in one ceaseless struggle to regain the whole of his birthright. His most formidable enemy was Chamuka, chief of the Juriats, and for a long time he had all the worst of the struggle, being taken prisoner on one occasion, and undergoing the indignity of the cangue. On making his escape he rallied his remaining followers round him for a final effort, and on the advice of his mother, Ogelen Eke, who was his principal adviser and stanchest supporter, he divided his forces into thirteen regiments of one thousand men each, and confined his attention to the defense of his own territory. Chamuka, led away by what he deemed the weakness of his adversary, attacked him on the Onon with as he considered the overwhelming force of thirty thousand men; but the result dispelled his hopes of conquest, for Genghis gained a decisive victory. Then was furnished a striking instance of the truth of the saying that "nothing succeeds like success." The despised Temujin, who was thought to be unworthy of the post of ruling the Mongols, was lauded to the skies, and the tribes declared with one voice, "Temujin alone is generous and worthy of ruling a great people." At this time also he began to show the qualities of a statesman and diplomatist. He formed in 1194 a temporary alliance with the Kin emperor, Madacou, and the richness of his reward seems to have excited his cupidity, while his experience of the Kin army went to prove that they were not so formidable as had been imagined. The discomfiture of Chamuka has been referred to, but he had not abandoned the hope of success, and when he succeeded in detaching the Kerait chief, Wang Khan, from the Mongols, to whom he was bound by ties of gratitude, he fancied that he again held victory in his grasp. But the intrigue did not realize his expectations. Wang Khan deserted Genghis while engaged in a joint campaign against the Naimans, but he was the principal sufferer by his treachery, for the enemy pursued his force, and inflicted a heavy defeat upon it. In fact, he was only rescued from destruction by the timely aid of the man he had betrayed.