"Advance to her, since she summons you and makes you a sign. Approach. Ask her who she is? Wherefore she has come here? Is it a soul from Purgatory who implores our prayers, who wishes to have Masses said for her?

Beg of her to write what she desires on this paper. We are ready to do everything she wishes, all that is necessary for her repose."

The girl took the paper, ink and pen which they gave her, and went forward to the apparition, whose maternal look encouraged her to approach.

Nevertheless, at every step that the child took the apparition gradually retired into the interior of the excavation. Bernadette lost sight of it for an instant, and penetrated under the vault of the grotto below. There, still above her but much nearer, in the opening of the niche, she again beheld the Holy Virgin surrounded with rays.

Bernadette, holding in her hand the objects which had been given her, stood up on her feet to reach, with her little arms and her low stature, to the height where the Supernatural Being stood above. Her two companions also stepped forward to try to hear the conversation which she was about to hold. But Bernadette, without turning round, and as if obeying a gesture of the apparition, made them a sign with her hand not to approach.

Quite confused, they withdrew a little aside.

"My lady," said the child, "if you have anything to communicate to me, would you have the goodness to write who you are and what you desire?"

The heavenly Virgin smiled at this simple request. Her lips opened, and she spoke.

"What I have to tell you," replied she, " I have no need to write. Do me only the favor to come here during fifteen days."

"I promise you to do so" said Bernadette.

The Blessed Virgin smiled again, and made a sign that she was satisfied, showing also her full confidence in the word of that poor peasant girl of fourteen years of age.

She knew that the little shepherd girl of Bartres was like those most innocent children whose fair heads Jesus loved to caress, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is for such as these." At the word of Bernadette she replies by a solemn engagement:

"And I," said she, "promise you to make you happy, not in this world, but in the next."

To the child who consented to give her a few days, she, in compensation, gave an assurance for eternity. -- page 46

O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us, who have recourse to thee.

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