At the usual time of the evening, at 8:30, Te lucis ante terminum, fervent prayer rose up from the community on the stony path to the pines, a path that was already radiating the miraculous. A calm fell on the surrounding plains, and spread through the ravines to the mountains above. The soft fragrance of summer, the scent of fields in bloom and new-cut hay pervaded the air.(17)
Around the girls gathered an assembly of almost all the people in the village, presided over by its pastor. One by one the beads of the rosary were counted out with the thrill of expectation . . . And at last the ecstasy of the girls!
This is certain! Shouts of enthusiasm mixed with sighs of emotion.
But not all resistance was vanquished. Among the onlookers was a certain Professor Manín.(18) Surely out of a desire for more complete information, this man took the girls to a neighbor's house after the ecstasy to interrogate them tenaciously about what they had seen. Some of the people got the idea that he had prepared the girls for their visions in the Calleja; the Civil Guards were suspicious of him, and even considered throwing him in jail.(19)
On that Thursday evening, Fr. Valentín was satisfied with being no more than a witness. But on the next day, June 23rd, he began to act as the person mainly responsible for what was happening.
At the same time of the evening there was an ecstasy in the Calleja again after the usual prayers. But the number of onlookers had increased markedly, since the news of what was occurring in San Sebastián had already traveled to the surrounding villages: Cossío, Puente Nansa, Rozadío.(20)
The ecstasy finished, the people showed their feelings by rushing to embrace the girls.
That day the guards did not want the professor to take us for questioning. We went with the parish priest to the church sacristy where he questioned us, calling us in one by one, to see if we agreed.
The examination must have completely satisfied Father Valentín, since on coming out into the courtyard with the girls, he said to the people waiting there:
Up to now everything seems to be coming from God.
17. Planting and harvesting hay is a principal occupation for the peasants in the mountains, who gain their living mainly from their cows. The countryside of the whole Santander region, not only the area near Garabandal, is almost a continual succession of fields of hay and woods of Eucalyptus. During those June days to which we are referring, the hay harvest was in full swing.
18. This professor was in San Sebastián tutoring the son of an indiano of the village. His name was Manín or Manuco (a nickname of Manuel). He recently lived in Santander.
19. The police chief mentions in his memoirs:
«In the village there was a teacher or professor who had come to give lessons on assigned courses to the son of the indiano Taquio. (Eustaquio Cuenca) And the teacher accompanied the girls during the apparitions to hear what they said, and to take notes. The people began to talk about whether he was hypnotizing them, and whether he was giving them pills or other things of that type. One day after the apparition, one of my sergeants informed me that the teacher had taken Conchita to the home of the indiano and that it was true what the people were saying . . . I went immediately and actually found the teacher with the girl in a room. I asked him what this was about, and he answered that he was doing work for Father Valentín, gathering information that they could later present in a report to the bishop.»
20. These are all small riverside towns on the banks of the Nansa River. Puente Nansa is on the river below Cossío; Rozadío, on the river above. This latter town is the ‘Robacio’ of the book ‘Penas Arriba,’ the childhood country of Neluco, the young and dedicated doctor of the novel.