That afternoon, they were shut up in the public prison with the common jail birds.
This seemed like the beginning of the end. Jacinta broke down and cried: "I wish I could at least see mummy again." Francis bravely consoled his little sister. "Offer that to our Lord. If we do not see mother again, we can offer it for the conversion of sinners."
They all three joined their hands and prayed through their tears:
"O good Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, for the Holy Father, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."
Quietly, they began their rosary. The other prisoners, who had received them kindly, felt their hearts melt. One by one, they went on their knees and joined in, though several could hardly remember how to pray. Soon, the whole prison was transformed into a house of prayer, merely because there had entered three small children who loved Our Divine Lord and His Immaculate Mother.
That evening, another searching interrogation in the Council office. So unshakable were they in their innocent candor and their straight-forward replies that their tormentor put on a furious expression and shouted;
~ "If you will not obey willingly, you'll obey by force."
Turning to an assistant, he ordered him to prepare a cauldron of boiling oil. While waiting, they were locked in an adjoining room.
Jacinta was the first to be sent for. The seven-year old youngster, no longer crying, went resolutely to the ordeal she thought was awaiting her. Then Francis, then Lucy. But instead of a terrible death, each found in their turn that it was another questioning, with alternate coaxing, endearments and menaces, and in the end, being shut up in another room.
The administrator had tried every method he knew to worm out the secret, on the knowledge of which he was convinced the successful handling of the affair depended. He accepted defeat at the hands of his child-captives, and took them back to their parents. "My friends," he told them. "your children are not right in their heads. You had better take care of them.."
Well or not, the children ran to the Cova da Iria to thank the Blessed Virgin for having preserved them from danger.
Four days later, on August 19th, Lucy, Francis, and John, his brother, were watching the sheep in a place called Valinhos when suddenly the atmosphere changed in the way it usually did when the Lady came. John ran to the house to fetch Jacinta, and when she came, there was the Lady, standing on the branch of an oak tree before them. she turned a compassionate look upon the children, which more than compensated for all that they had suffered on her account. as usual, she exhorted them to new efforts:
~ "Pray, pray a lot! And make sacrifices for sinners, for many are the souls on their way to hell for want of someone to make sacrifices and pray for them!"With a gesture of farewell, she was gone.