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RUPTURE WITH VANG KHAN
EMUJIN 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
repre-  sent 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 the 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 vengeance.
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 great.
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
 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
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
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
"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
 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 own.