CHAPTER V. THE MONGOL CONQUEST OF CHINA
But far from inspiring gratitude, this incident inflamed the resentment of Wang Khan, who, throwing off the cloak of simulated friendship, declared publicly that either the Kerait or the Mongol must be supreme on the great steppe, as there was not room for both. Such was the superiority in numbers of the Kerait, that in the first battle of this long and keenly- contested struggle, Wang Khan defeated Temujin near Ourga, where the mounds that cover the slain are still shown to the curious or skeptical visitor. After this serious, and in some degree unexpected reverse, the fortunes of Genghis sank to the lowest ebb. He was reduced to terrible straits, and had to move his camp rapidly from one spot to another. A small section of his followers, mindful of his past success and prowess, still clung to him, and by a sudden and daring coup he changed the whole aspect of the contest. He surprised Wang Khan in his camp at night, and overwhelmed him and his forces. Wang Khan escaped to his old foes, the Naimans, who, disregarding the laws of hospitality, put him to death. The death of Wang Khan signified nothing less than the wholesale defection of the Kerait tribe, which joined Genghis to the last man. Then Genghis turned westward to settle the question of supremacy with the Naimans, who were both hostile and defiant. The Naiman chief shared the opinion of Wang Khan, that there could not be two masters on the Tian Shan, and with that vigorous illustration which has never been wanting to these illiterate tribes, he wrote, "There cannot be two suns in the sky, two swords in one sheath, two eyes in one eyepit, or two kings in one empire." Both sides made strenuous efforts for the fray, and brought every fighting man they could into the field. The decisive battle of the war was fought in the heart of Jungaria, and the star of Genghis rose in the ascendant. The Naimans fought long and well, but they were borne down by the heavier armed Mongols, and their desperate resistance only added to their loss. Their chief died of his wounds, and the triumph of Genghis was rendered complete by the capture of his old enemy, Chamuka. As Genghis had sworn the oath of friendship with Chamuka, he would not slay him, but he handed him over to a relative, who promptly exacted the rough revenge his past hostility and treachery seemed to call for. On his way back from this campaign the Mongol chief attacked the Prince of Hia, who reigned over Kansuh and Tangut, and thus began the third war he waged for the extension of his power. Before this assumed serious proportions he summoned a Grand Council or Kuriltai, at his camp on the Onon, and then erected outside his tent the royal Mongol banner of the nine white yak-tails. It was on this occasion that Temujin took, and was proclaimed among the Mongol chiefs by, the highly exalted name of Genghis Khan, which means Very Mighty Khan. The Chinese character for the name signifies "Perfect Warrior," and the earlier European writers affirm that it is supposed to represent the sound of "the bird of heaven." At this assemblage, which was the first of a long succession of Mongol councils summoned at the same place on critical occasions, it was proposed and agreed that the war should be carried on with the richer and less warlike races of the south. Among soldiers it is necessary to preserve the spirit of pre-eminence and warlike zeal by granting rewards and decorations. Genghis realized the importance of this matter, and instituted the order of Baturu or Bahadur, meaning warrior. He also made his two leading generals Muhula and Porshu princes, one to sit on his right hand and the other on his left. He addressed them before the council in the following words: "It is to you that I owe my empire. You are and have been to me as the shafts of a carriage or the arms to a man's body." Seals of office were also granted to all the officials, so that their authority might be the more evident and the more honored.