As the 13th of August approached, all Portugal knew the story of Fatima, although in a variety of versions, some pious, and many profane. The anti-religious press was especially fond of this story that drifted down from the lonely uplands of the Serra da Aire. It was tailored to the talents of the more "enlightened" editorial writers, and so replete with comic possibilities, that almost any working journalist, three paragraphs deep in his daily stint, could shine like a new Voltaire.
If the facts were distorted, it made little difference.
"What facts?" they wanted to know. These children (how many were there, anyhow? ) were the puppets of the Jesuits. Not the Jesuits? Well, then, the clergy in general, or the pope, in particular—luring ignorant and unwary people to the Cova da Iria, in order to fleece them of their money. They didn't have any money? Well, then, of their political allegiance, so that the humane fabric of the enlightened Republic could be sabotaged to the advantage of Roman reactionaries
The press enjoyed its jolly excursions. The Freemasons were delighted. All loyal supporters of the reigning "New Order" found increasing humor of the situation.
Less amused than most freethinking citizens was Senhor Arthur Santos, the mayor of Vila Nova de Ourem, the county in which Fatima belonged. He could afford to laugh less than others, because the responsibility of dealing with all this rosary-rattling hysteria was his.
Arthus Santos was by training a tin smith. His formal education had been slight, his ambitions large. A self-propelled and intrepid young man, he became the editor of the Ouriense, a local gazette in which his antimonarchical and anti-religious opinions were expressed with bitter zeal, and likely enough, some talent. In any case, with the advent of the Republic in 1910, Arthur Santos, at the age of twenty-six, was a man of consequence. After being elected to the Masonic Lodge of Leiria, the bustling Senhor founded a separate lodge in his native Vila Nova de Ourem, and was, before long, mayor or administrator of the county. This carried with it the corollary titles of President of the Chamber and Judge Substitute of Comarca. Wearing all these honors, with their companion authority, Senhor Santos was the most feared and influential man in his section of Portugal.
Since he professed not to believe in God, Senhor Santos was in no position to believe in a Virgin Mother as someone likely to appear either in Heaven or on top of an oak tree, for the amusement of the ignorant bumpkins of his own community. Either someone was crazy, or there was a willful attempt to undermine the civic power. The danger was apparent in the fact that some of his constituents already believed there were miracles astir, and he could not imagine what explanation he could provide his political colleagues if this anti-republican witchcraft continued to thrive in his own county. He gave instructions therefore, that those involved in this sham be brought to the City Hall and, for our enlightenment, we have Ti Marto's own account:
My brother-in-law, Antonio, had received the same summons to appear with his daughter at the Town Hall of Ourem on August 11, at noon. They both came to my house that morning, while I was eating my breakfast, and the first thing Lucia asked me was, "Are Jacinta and Francisco coming?"
Now, what would two small children like that be doing there at the Town Hall, Lucia?" I said. "I'm going down to answer for them myself."
Well, the next thing I knew, Lucia had rushed inside, and we could hear Jacinta saying to her, "If they're going to kill you, tell them that Francisco and I are just the same as you, we believe the same thing, and we wished to be killed, too."
And my little one meant it, but never mind now. I left with Lucia and her father. On the way Lucia fell off the donkey three times, and Antonio, who was full of fear of the mayor, went rushing ahead, so as not to be late. When Lucia and I finally got to the square, we saw Antonio waiting there.
"What happened?" I said to him.
He was all excited. "The door was locked," he said.
"There's no one there." But it wasn't noon yet, anyhow, so we waited.
After a while we tried the Town Hall. It was still closed. Someone came along about then and told us the mayor didn't work there anymore, so we were taken to him, and the first thing the mayor demanded of me was:
"Where is the child?"
"What child?" I said.
I waited. He didn't seem to know that there were three children, but, of course, in a while, he caught on.
Now, look, sir," I told him, "it's more than nine miles distance to our village and the little children couldn't walk it. No, sir, and they're not used to the donkey, either." I felt like adding a whole lot more, but I was wise enough to hold my tongue. Oh, he was very annoyed, but a lot I cared. He began to question Lucia then, trying to get the secret out of her. A fine chance he had. She wouldn't tell him a word. Then the mayor turned to my brother-in-law.
"You people in Fatima," he said to Antonio, "do you believe this stuff?"
"No, sir," Antonio said, "we believe it's just women's talk."
I interrupted then. I said to the mayor, "I'm right here, your Honor, and I believe everything my children say."
He looked at me. "You do? You believe it?"
"Yes, I do," I said.
Well, everyone standing around began to laugh, but it made no difference to me. There were reporters there from the newspapers, and they said they were going to write it up. After a while they let us go, but right up to the end the mayor kept threatening Lucia. He even said that if she didn't reveal her secret, he would have her killed. I said to him then, as we were leaving, "If you send for us, I know that we'll have to come, but please remember we have our own lives to lead!"
It was Lucia's first interview with the civil authorities, and if it was not a pleasant one, she at least escaped unscathed. At home Jacinta and Francisco did not have this comforting assurance. They wept by the well in Lucia's yard, and when they saw her, finally, they rubbed their eyes, as though gazing at some youthful Lazarus.
"Lucia! Lucia!" Jacinta sobbed. "Your sister told us they had killed you!"
In her grief, Jacinta appears to have overlooked the Lady's assurance that when death came calling so early, it would be for Francisco and herself.
The mayor, a resourceful, energetic fellow, had only begun his work of suppression. If there was a local bandwagon, bound for Heaven, it was his intention to spill it in the first available ditch; and he chose as the time most opportune, the day for which the fourth apparition was scheduled. Ti Marto's record continues:
On the morning of August 13—it was a Monday—I got a summons to come home from my work at once. All right, I went. There were a lot of people outside my house, but I was used to that by now. I went inside and was washing my hands. My wife was sitting there. She was nervous and upset and all she did was point to the living room. "All right," I said, "I'll go in there. Why such a fuss?" So I walked inside still using a towel, and who should I see but the mayor himself. Even then, I suppose, I wasn't very polite to him, because I saw that a priest was there, too, and I went first to shake hands with the priest. Then I said to the mayor, "I did not expect to see you here, sir."
He was a great actor, that man. "I thought that after all I would like to go to the miracle today," he said. What's this? I asked myself, but the mayor went on, "I thought that we would all go together in my carriage. We will see, and then believe, like St. Thomas," he said.
I watched him closely now, because I could see he was nervous. He kept looking around before he said, "Aren't the children coming? It is almost time for the apparition."
"There is no need to call them," I said. "They will be ready when it is time to go."
Just then they came into the room, the three of them, looking no different, and the mayor invited them to go in his carriage. That wasn't necessary, the children told him.
"It will be better that way," the mayor insisted. "No one will bother you on the way and, besides, I want to stop off at Fatima to see Father Ferreira."
So what could we do? We went along—myself, the children, and Lucia's father. The mayor went in to see Father Ferreira at the presbytery, then in no time at all he called down, "Send the first one up."
"The first what?" I said.
His tone was different now. He was full of authority.
"Send Lucia!" he said.
"All right," I said. No use getting in too much trouble.
"Go ahead, Lucia." And she went into the house, supposedly to talk to Father Ferreira. My own two children stood there on the steps, while I was with Antonio, Lucia's father. It was just a trick, this business of talking to the pastor, [this is incorrect]18 because when it was time for Jacinta and Francisco to go in, the mayor said, "It doesn't matter now. We can all get started." Well, it was a smart trick, all right, because I hadn't noticed the mayor's carriage moving closer all the time to the steps where the children were standing. First thing I knew, the mayor had them seated with him. Francisco in the front, and the two girls in the back. The horse went off at a lively trot. For a while it looked as though they were going to the Cova da Iria, but when they got to the main road the horse was whipped suddenly and they were off, racing toward Ourem. And there was nothing I could do.
The horse and carriage moved briskly along the road to Vila Nova de Ourem. Lucia turned to the mayor and said, "Where are you taking us? This isn't the way to the Cova da Iria."
We have no precise report on the conversation that followed, except that the mayor, in uneasy possession of his kidnapped cargo, attempted to calm them. He was merely taking them to Ourem, he explained, to see the parish priest there, after which, he insisted, they would be returned to the Cova by automobile. He appears to have been a nervous and unskilled liar. Along the road now, people began to recognize first the mayor's carriage, and then its unwilling passengers. Just how noisy or conspicuous they were, we do not know, but in any event the mayor did feel obliged to cover all three with a carriage rug on the floor to keep them out of sight.
An hour or so later, they arrived at the mayor's house. He shut them firmly in a room, and advised them they would not be freed until they confided their precious secret to him. Precisely why the mayor, wanted to pry the children loose from their secret, remains a mystery. After all, he was a man of avowed disbelief in the supernatural. What value could another of their imaginative discourses have for him? Except, of course, that the secret might prove so ridiculous that its publication alone would dissolve the band of faithful who had come to believe in the incredible but lively legend of the three little prophets and their Lady.
Alone, the children appraised their situation. "If they kill us," Jacinta said, "it won't matter much; will it? Because we'll all go straight to Heaven."
A willing, and perhaps even an eager martyr by now, Jacinta was a bit ahead of schedule. Actually, the balance of this afternoon was not unpleasant. The mayor, if less kindly and conscience-ridden than Pontius Pilate, had a wife whose sympathies belonged to his victims, rather than himself. She managed to free them from the room where they were confined, and to feed them generously, offering her own children as companions for the afternoon. Later, in the terrifying hours they were to know, she brought them books and toys, and did all in her limited power to soften their brutal ordeal.
Back at the Cova da Iria, of course, the children's appointment with their Lady was not kept. But for evidence that the Queen of Heaven appeared on time, we offer the testimony that Maria da Capelinha has provided:
As before, I arrived very early at the Cova and sat down near the little tree where Our Lady had appeared. I went in spite of the fact that many people had tried to frighten me out of going. There were rumors it was the devil who came, and that he would wait until many people had come, then open the earth and swallow us all. A woman from Caterina had told me this, but I was not afraid. With so much praying going on, I decided, nothing so evil could happen. I asked Our Lady to guide me according to the divine will of her Son, and then I went.
The crowd this day was even greater than it had been in July. Oh, there were many, many more. Some came on foot and hung their bundles on the trees. Some came on horses. Some on mules. There were bicycles too, and everything else, and on the road there was a great noise of traffic.
It must have been around 11 o'clock when Maria dos Anjos, Lucia's sister, got there. She had some candles with her that she expected to light when Our Lady came to her sister and her cousins. All around the tree, the people were praying and singing hymns, but when the children did not appear, they began to get impatient. Then someone came from Fatima and told us they had been kidnapped by the mayor. Everyone began talking at once; there was great anger, and I don't know what would have happened if we hadn't heard the clap of thunder.
It was much the same as the last time. Some said the thunder came from the direction of the road and others said it came from the tree. To me it seemed to come from a long way off. But wherever it came from, the thunder was a shock to the people. Some of them began to shout that we would be killed. We all began to spread out, away from the tree, but, of course, no one was hurt in any way. Just after the clap of thunder came a flash of lightning, and then we began to see a little cloud, very delicate, very white, which stopped for a few moments over the tree, and then rose in the air until it disappeared. As we looked around, we began to notice some strange things we had observed before and would see again in the months to follow. Our faces were reflecting all the colors of the rainbow—pink and red and blue and I don't know what. The trees suddenly seemed to be made not of leaves, but of flowers. The ground reflected these many colors, and so did the clothes we wore. The lanterns that someone had fixed to the arch above us looked as though they had turned to gold. Certainly Our Lady had come, I knew, even though the children were not there.
Then when all these signs had disappeared, the people started for Fatima. They were shouting out against the mayor and against Father Ferreira, too. They were against anyone connected with the imprisonment of the children.
It was not a happy time for the just and temperate Ti Marto. Robbed, at least temporarily, of his children, and already, because of his independence, in disfavor with the powerful mayor, he walked on toward the Cova da Iria, and he has described for us the disturbance he found:
"Let us go to Ourem and protest!" some of the people were saying. "Let us go and beat them all up! Let us speak to the priest, because it is his fault, too. Let us go now and settle with the mayor!" 19 I thought to myself that in a way they were right, but they had worked themselves into a temper of such violence that I feared what they might do. I began to shout at them: "Be quiet! Take it easy! There is no reason to injure anyone! Whoever has done something evil will be punished. This affair is in the hands of God!" But they wouldn't take any notice of what I said. They went on in their anger toward Fatima. As for me, I went to my house, and found my wife in tears. Olimpia was not easy to console. Her sobs continued, her fears multiplied. She had rushed with her bad tidings to Maria Rosa, the mother of Lucia, but that strange and difficult-to-fathom lady seemed more pleased than grieved to know a crisis had finally arrived.
"If they are lying," said Maria Rosa, "it will teach them a lesson, and if they are not, Our Lady will look after them."
On the following day the children awakened in the mayor's house at Ourem, and Jacinta, more than the others, found these strange surroundings difficult to bear. Above all she missed her mother. She began to pray for strength and guidance from the Virgin Mary. The mayor, more like a goblin than a grown man, had marshaled his various scalp-raising devices for the bitter business of the day. The first arrival in the children's room was an old lady inquisitor, who did everything but spin on her horns to extract the famous secret. She did not succeed, and was withdrawn in favor of the mayor himself.20 The children were brought before him at approximately ten o'clock. He enlisted charm. He placed shining coins and a beautiful gold chain on the table. "The secret, please?" he requested, but without success. The Mayor began to feel less clever, even though his bag of tricks had scarcely been opened.
In the afternoon the children were put in the public jail. The imprisonment was real. They were cast among adult and hardened sinners, with the Mayor's solemn assurance that they would remain in the jail only until a cauldron of boiling oil had been prepared. When the oil was bubbling properly, they would be thrown into it—alive.
They doubted neither the mayor nor his jailers, and for two hours they expected precisely this sizzling end to life on earth. Again Jacinta appears to have suffered the most. She tried to conceal her tears from Lucia and Francisco by gazing through a window to the market square. But Lucia; who was stronger, and who loved her so dearly, wasn't fooled.
"Why are you crying, Jacinta?"
"Because we'll die without even seeing our parents," Jacinta said. "They haven't even come to see us. That's how much they care."
The betrayal, the abandonment, the end of love, were more cruel to her than the prospect of martyrdom. Francisco appears to have passed through this trial with extravagant courage. Like some small Saint Stephen, he was ready for sticks or stones or boiling oil.
"Don't worry, Jacinta," he consoled his little sister. "We can offer this for sinners, too."
This was not play-acting. Their conviction was complete. Nor was there self-conscious piety displayed. The act of reparation, the consignment of personal suffering to God so that He might find even greater mercy for others, had become a natural, everyday thing. They joined their hands and together said, "O my Jesus, this is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners...."
Understandably, to their fellow prisoners, the children did not present a tableau seen every day. Pop-eyed, nudging one another, the inmates crowded close. Awkwardly, fumblingly in their ways, they tried to comfort them, without, however, retreating from their own conviction that these children were crazy.
"Look, be smart," one of them suggested. "Tell the mayor the secret and you can go home. It doesn't matter about the Lady."
"It doesn't matter?" Jacinta, incredulous, looked at the man. "But we'd much rather die than tell the secret."
So there you are, and there were the prisoners, scratching their puzzled heads. This sort of thing they had never witnessed before. It touched them, if not spiritually, then at least sentimentally. It tugged at chords of sympathy they were embarrassed to know they still possessed. Unable to dissuade their strange new friends from such grim resolve, they tried then, as best they could, to brighten the burden some way. One of the prisoners had a concertina which he began to squeeze like a musical muff. The result was gay enough. Other prisoners began to sing.
Jacinta was feeling better now. The tears dried on her cheeks, a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. The rhythm and the pleasant nonsense of the moment went to her feet if not to her head. One of the larger inmates invited Jacinta to dance, and with solemn courtesy, she accepted. Lucia, whose sense of comedy has always been as broad as her charity, began to laugh. The prisoner tried valiantly to cope with the size of his partner, but found that the only reasonable solution was to gather her up like a loaf of bread in his arms and continue the dance himself. The concertina labored merrily along.
It was all very amusing, we are told, and gloom departed the jail cell like a frightened cat. But Jacinta, while being whirled, came suddenly to realize this was not—as far as she knew—a good preparation for martyrdom. She did not know if her beloved Lady would approve of the general commotion. She asked the prisoner please to put her down, and when he had, she dug deep in her pocket for a holy medal, which she then, with some ceremony, hung from a nail on one of the walls. Devoutly, with Lucia and Francisco, she knelt on the bare floor and began to recite the Rosary aloud. Automatically, the older prisoners knelt in deep respect, the single flaw in their gesture being one man's failure to remove his hat. Francisco, to correct this, got up and walked over to him.
"Sir, when you pray," he remarked, perhaps too smugly, "you are expected to take off your hat."
The prisoner, flustered by the amused hoots of his cell mates, took it off all right, then heaved it violently to the floor. Francisco very politely retrieved it, dusted it, and placed it gently on a bench. It was a lovely incident, and the angels, it seems fair to assume, were working overtime.
But suddenly, while they were praying, there was a frightening clamor beyond the door. It opened and a prison guard stood sternly there.
"You three," he said. "Yes, you. It's time."
In their own minds, at least, they stepped forward to the doom for which they had prepared. Once again they were obliged to face the mayor.
"Well?" he said.
There was no reply. No sign of capitulation. The mayor was baffled. In the children's presence he gave elaborate orders about the preparation of the boiling oil, and was assured by his aides that it was boiling very nicely. The mayor then turned to the children.
"It's your last chance to tell the secret. Do you hear? Well—do you?" His glance settled on Jacinta, who trembled and paled. The terror swelled within her. "Take that one first!" he shouted to the guards. "Throw her into the cauldron!"
"Dear Jesus, help me! Our Lady help me!" Jacinta called aloud. The guards grasped her and shook her, but found her resolution still unshaken. The secret remained her own. The door closed behind her. The staging was effective, and the drama, as far as the children knew, entirely real.
Lucia, left alone with Francisco, turned to him. He had really become quite a fellow. And if, as so many have concluded, he was the least favored of our Lady's small friends, he had aimed himself point-blank at Heaven. Clearly, he could hardly wait for the glad someday.
"If they kill us," he said, "what about it? We'll be in Heaven, won't we, Lucia? Is there anything more you could want?"
"No, Francisco, I'm sure there is not."
She watched him tug at the rosary in his pocket. She saw his lips move now in prayer. A guard, watching them closely, came over.
"What are you saying?" the guard inquired.
"An Ave Maria," Francisco said, "so my little sister will not be afraid."
Beyond the room there was ominous silence until the door swung open. The guard who had taken his sister away, placed heavy hands on Francisco.
"Your sister's well cooked by now, young man. It's your turn next. You might as well come out with that secret. Don't be a crazy and stubborn fool. Tell his Excellency what he wants to know."
"I can't," Francisco said. "It isn't possible. I can't tell anyone."
They led him through the door and only Lucia remained. The oldest of the children, she was only ten. From the beginning she had not doubted that the cauldron of oil was real. Her inquisitors, returning, and carrying their wrathful drama to its clumsy and faltering conclusion, were naturally as unsuccessful with Lucia as they had been with the others. In another few moments the children were joyfully together, and the only thing resembling a cauldron of boiling oil, was the temper of his honor, mayor, administrator, and torch-bearer of the new "enlightenment," who did not believe in God.
That evening the mayor's wife fed them well, and they slept together happily under the mayor's roof. By the morning of the Feast of the Assumption, his honor gave up, and in concession to popular sentiment, returned the children by carriage to the presbytery of Father Ferreira, the pastor of Fatima.
In Fatima, on August 15, Father Ferreira was concluding the last Mass of the holy day. His parishioners were restless through the final prayers. Glances were anxious and meaningful. Curiosity was high. As soon as they were outside the church, the people gathered close and demanding around Ti Marto.
"Where are the children?" they wanted to know. "What has happened to them, Ti Marto? How much do you know? Or is it that you do not care?"
Outside the church (Ti Marto has told us) I tried to tell the people that I knew nothing about the children, really, but only trusted in God. On the day they were taken away, I explained, my stepson, Antonio, and some other boys, reported they had seen them playing on the veranda of the mayor's house at Ourem, but they could be anywhere now, even at Santarem.
Well, just as I was telling them this, I heard somebody shouting, "Hey, Ti Marto—look! There they are now, on the porch of the presbytery." I can tell you I don't know how I got there, but the first thing I knew I was holding and hugging my Jacinta. I can even remember that I picked her up and held her in my right arm—so, like this, and I am not ashamed to say my tears were such that they got my little girl all wet. The other two, Francisco and Lucia, they ran up to me. "Father, Uncle," they said, "give us your blessing." You can be sure I did, and that it was a wonderful moment for me.
Just at this time now there appears a funny little man who is a kind of official. He works for the mayor. Well, this man is so frightened he cannot stop trembling. I have never seen anyone tremble in this way. He said to me then, this little man, he said, "Well, here are your children."
I said to him then, "This affair could have ended very badly, and it is not your fault that it hasn't." He did not say anything. "You wanted them to say they were lying, but they would not," I told this man. "And even if they had been so frightened that they gave in to you, I would still have told the truth of it!"
Well, by this time, in the square, there is a terrible noise of the angry people. They are shouting and waving their arms and making threats. They are on my side, you understand, but they are dangerous this way. Father Ferreira hears all this noise and climbs to the top of the presbytery steps where I am standing with the children. He thinks I am making the trouble and he says to me, "Senhor Manuel Marto—are you causing all this disturbance?"
Me? I was still holding Jacinta in my arms. I called down to the people in the square, "Be quiet, all of you! You are shouting against the mayor and you are shouting against Father Ferreira—quiet! You don't even know why you are shouting. This trouble, I tell you, comes from a lack of faith in God, and that is why He permits it."
Well, Father Ferreira seemed satisfied. From the porch we had gone inside the house. He went to a window then and faced the people.
"Senhor Marto is right; he is quite right," he called to them.
At this moment the mayor himself arrived at the presbytery and came upstairs to where we were standing by the window. With authority now he shows himself to the people and says to me, "That is enough, Senhor Marto; that is enough."
To keep the peace I said, "It is all right. Nothing has happened to the children."
After a while the mayor called me into Father Ferreira's office. Looking at me, he said to Father Ferreira, "For myself, I prefer the conversation of Abobora (meaning "The Pumpkin," Lucia's father), but I suppose I must talk with Senhor Marto, too."
He meant by this that he did not like the religious tone of my talk and Father Ferreira said to him, politely but firmly,
"Mr. Mayor, we cannot do without religion."
Well, the mayor thought about this, and perhaps to show what a generous man he was, he invited me to have a glass of wine with him at the tavern. I refused his invitation, but just then I saw a group of noisy boys below us; they were armed with sticks, and I said to myself there will be serious trouble if the anger of the crowd is not relieved, so I said to the mayor, "All right, I will have a drink with you."
He felt better then, because he knew the way the people felt. At the bottom of the stairs, so they could hear him, he said, "You can be sure I treated the children very well."
I did not at the time know exactly how he had treated them, but they seemed all right to me.
"It's not I who is worried," I said to him. "It's the people who want to know."
The crowd broke up and the danger was past. In the tavern then, feeling more secure, he started a silly conversation of some kind, then tried to tell me that the children had told him their secret. Very calmly, I said then, "Certainly, certainly; they wouldn't tell the secret to their own mother or father, so it's natural they would tell it to you."
Meanwhile the children had gone to the Cova da Iria to pray. The mayor insisted on taking me in his carriage down to the post office where I had to go. It was amusing, in a way. Some of the people saw me in the carriage and began to shout, "There goes Ti Marto! He's talked too much, and the tinker is taking him off to jail!"
The children's release from the mayor's custody brought joy and new hope to their followers—by now a sizeable and expanding cult. They had been deeply moved by the strange events in the Cova da Iria on the August 13th just past. The rainbow colors that had washed the earth with strange and unexplained beauty at the time of the Virgin's visitation, had more than impressed; it had left a deposit of wonder with all who were there. The new advocates were many, and chief among the faithful was the pious and unwavering Maria da Capelinha, who was stumbling into troubles of her own.
The good Maria was being hung on an ancient hook, cash money. Involuntarily she had become the receiver of alms left on the little table that she had covered with candles and flowers, not in hope of any material gain, but only to honor the Lady in whom she believed. Now the money was a problem, and began to burn warm in her hands. She has herself related to the author the embarrassment caused her by these unsolicited cash receipts:
When the people in the Cova heard that the children had been imprisoned on that August 13th and had seen the wondrous sign of the Lady, you can imagine how much money poured onto that table. The people pushed so hard all around it, that I thought at one moment that it was going to upset. They began to shout at me:
"Take the money, woman, take it and look after it; see that you don't lose any...." I had my lunch bag with me and began to put the money in that. In the afternoon when there weren't many people there, I saw Tia Olimpia's eldest son, Antonio, passing by, and I said to him:
"Will you come here a moment?" He came, but when he saw what it was all about, he wouldn't say anything and went away. So I took the money home and counted it. It came to 13 'mil' and 40 'reis' if I remember rightly [about $5]. The bag was very heavy, because in those days we had the other coinage. So on the 14th I told my husband that it would be better to go and take the money to Ti Marto. When we arrived, we found Senhora Rosa and Father Ferreira there, too. I can still see him leaning against the wall. I was even rather rude, because I went straight up to Senhor Marto and gave him the money instead of to Father, as I should have done. But Jacinta's father absolutely refused to accept it:
"Don't try me anymore, woman, I'm tried enough already!" Then I gave it to Lucia's mother but she said angrily: "God forbid! I don't want it either...."
I was getting upset by this time and turned to Father Ferreira, and offered it to him. He refused absolutely to take the money. It might have had a curse on it. Then I saw red, too:
"I won't have it either," I declared. "I'll go out and put it back where I found it!" Then Father Ferreira tried to calm me and said:
"Don't do that, woman, keep it, or give it to someone to take care of until we see what comes of all this."
Some days later four men arrived and asked me for the money to begin the building of a chapel. I told them that I wouldn't give them a penny of it, but afterwards I thought that I shouldn't have done that without asking Father Ferreira. He told me that he didn't want to have anything to do with it but that, personally, he wouldn't give it to them as they had no right to ask. He told me to do as I liked, and said that what I had done so far was all right. And so the muddle over the money continued. Those whom I offered it to, wouldn't take it, and those who wanted it didn't get it!