The soldiers then brought to him a female captive, a grown-up virgin, of such exquisite beauty, that whichever way she walked she attracted the eyes of every body.
Scipio, on making inquiries as to her country and parentage, heard, among other particulars, that she was betrothed to a young prince of the Celtiberians, named Allucius.
He immediately, therefore, summoned from their abode her parents and lover, and having heard in the mean time that the latter was desperately enamoured of her, as soon as he arrived he addressed him in a more studied manner than her parents.
“A young man myself,” said he, “I address myself to a young man, and therefore there need be the less reserve in this conversation.
As soon as your intended bride, having been captured by my soldiers, was brought into my presence, and I was informed that she was endeared to you, which her beauty rendered probable; considering that I should myself wish that my affection for my intended bride, though excessive, should meet with indulgence, could I enjoy the pleasures suited to my age, (particularly in an honourable and lawful love,) and were not my mind engrossed by public affairs, I indulge as far as I can your passion.
Your mistress, while under my protection, has received as much respect as under the roof of her own parents, your father-in-law and mother-in-law. She has been kept in perfect safety for you, that she might be presented to you pure, a gift worthy of me and of you.
This only reward I bargain for in return for the service I have rendered you, that you would be a friend to the Roman people; and if you believe that I am a true man, as these nations knew my father and uncle to have been heretofore, that you would feel assured that in the Roman state there are many like us;
and that no nation in the world at the present time can be mentioned, with which you ought to be less disposed that you, or those belonging to you, should be at enmity, or with which you would rather be in friendship.”
The young man, overcome at once with joy and modesty, clung to Scipio's right hand, and invoked all the gods to recompense him in his behalf, since he himself was far from possessing means proportioned either to his own wishes or Scipio's deserts.
He then addressed himself to the parents and relatives of the damsel, who, on receiving her back without any reward, whom they had brought
a very large weight of gold to redeem, entreated Scipio to ac- [p. 1086]
cept it from them as a present to himself; affirming, that if he would do so, they should feel as grateful for it as they did for the restoration of their daughter inviolate.
As they were so earnest in their entreaties, Scipio promised to accept it, and ordered it to be laid at his feet. Then calling Allucius to him, he said: “To the dowry which you are about to receive from your father-in-law, let these marriage presents also from me be added;” bidding him take away the gold and keep it for himself.
Delighted with these presents and honours, he was dismissed to his home, where he inspired his countrymen with the deserved praises of Scipio, observing, “that a most godlike youth had come among them, who conquered every thing, not only by arms, but by kindness and generosity.”
Accordingly, making a levy among his dependants, he returned to Scipio after a few days, with fourteen hundred chosen horsemen.