Part 5 of 5 of the short story A Saintly Soul Abducted by K.G. Watson. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
McNeil sat paralyzed by the obvious decorations that he knew so well being an affront to the mindset of the time. How could they have missed that? Well, would they have banned it? Look at the gold leaf, the jewels that had bedecked it! Look at the penance it showed!
He thought Liam had finally run out of paper, but another thin pair of pages appeared from the lad’s back pocket.
“Of all, this will be the hardest to reconcile, I fear,” he began. “While I was in Dublin studying the Book of Kells, the technical staff told me that they had a collection of tiny flakes, dust really, that has come from the document recently. Highest on their question list was why some of the blacks are brown and others so deeply dark.”
Well, they said it was obviously a change in chemistry, but since none of the recipes have survived, it was a ‘so-what’ sort of question. I mentioned that I had access to a CRISPR unit in the Biology Building, and with it, we might be able to identify the DNA of the plant pigments and thereby deduce what plants and maybe the proportions that were used in the various paints. I got the results back yesterday for the black that was used to make eyes in the saints. I thought I should bring them up here.”
“I don’t know what you’ll think of them in the context of what I’ve laid out – about St Patrick being a champion of opposition and there being an underground faction within the Church that was likely able to survive because it had inside powerful and secret support. But here it is anyway.”
Liam handed over the stapled pages. McNeil scanned down the first page, which outlined a technique he did not understand. The second page was a re-run to eliminate doubt. The conclusion in bold print was unmistakable.
“At the 95% confidence level, the sample contained human blood,” the report read.
“McNeil looked up. “So this is why the ink was darker for those eyes of the saints in the margins?”
Liam nodded and urged him to read the sentence that had been covered by his mentor’s thumb.
McNeil was reading it out loud to prove he was really reading it, but he stopped abruptly. “The human blood concerned was from a female. Confidence level 100%.”
He looked up open-mouthed.
“What should I do with that?” Liam asked.