“Now what, Shamus, do you use this powder for? Know that, I may be able to help your cause.”
I lifted up my thumb for him to look at. “The marks on our fingers are distinct. Whenever we touch an object, something is left behind.”
He shook his head. “Not unless something already stained our fingers. Why, if you touch my counter, now, with clean hands such as yours, not a mark would be left.”
I sighed. “Do you have chalk?”
He shrugged and went to his cabinets, opening a small drawer and produced a whitish, lumpy rock.
“And one of those poundy things with the bowl?”
“The mortar and pestle,” he said, patiently.
I used the poundy thing—I didn’t know which was the mortar and which the pestle—to break off a chunk and then proceeded to grind it to a fine powder. I had been careful to keep one hand out of the chalk, so I used that clean thumb to press down firmly on the wooden counter. The apothecary had kept a very clean shop, so I was sure the counter would take the print okay.
I hefted up the wooden bowl, and very carefully tapped out a tiny amount of powder. When I had gotten a light dusting on top, I bent down and lightly puffed away the loose chalk, hoping this worked.
It did. It was faint, but the whitish powder stood out against the dark wood of the counter, revealing the fingerprint.