The apparitions of
THE STORY BEGINS
Fr. Marichalar now made for Mary Loly's house to complete his inquiries. He was astonished to discover that her replies were identical.
"We'll wait a day or so," the priest puckered his brow, "to see if this beautiful person returns, and see what he has to say. Then, I'll go in to Santander and have a word with the Bishop."
The girls had their lunch and returned to their afternoon lessons. Afterwards, Conchita went to buy some milk. The woman who sold it to her, a friend of Señnora Gonzalez, questioned her afresh. Conchita relates that, after hearing her out, the woman smiled kindly.
"Since I know you well," she commented, "I believe you saw the angel. But not the others."
"That isn't so. We were together, all four of us, and we all saw him quite plainly."
She carried the milk home and asked her mother's permission to go to the sunken lane to pray. The house was undergoing repairs. Pepe Diez and Conchita's brother, Aniceto Gonzalez, were working there. Pepe smiled when he heard her request.
"Let her go," he said to her mother. "She can't do anyone any harm by praying!"
"Not on your life, Mother," Aniceto broke in. "Do you want us all to be a laughing stock?"
They were in the midst of this when the other three girls came round the corner. Aniceta was in a quandary. She wanted to let Conchita have her way, but she would have liked to have heeded Aniceto's sensible advice, too.
"Oh Lord!" she exclaimed. "What a fix they've got us into!"
"It isn't a fix, Mother," Conchita put in.
"And what if it's all true? !" Aniceta mused.
She finally gave her consent, and the four set off happily for the lane leading to the pine grove and the spot called the "calleja" or sunken lane; their own "little piece of heaven," as it is called in the diary.
"Where are you off to?" people inquired as they passed by.
"To pray in the lane."
"What on earth are you going to the lane for? Haven't you got a perfectly good church to pray in?"
"Yesterday, we saw the angel there, so now we're going to pray and see if he appears there again." Followed by the neighbors' smiles and jokes, the girls went on. When they reached the spot where they had been the night before, they knelt down. Passers-by in the lane and some little boys and girls who had followed them laughed heartily. They attempted to force the girls to leave the lane.