“It is trivial,” says Lady Wells, “to be a mollusc. It requires only that one be adopted into the phylum Mollusca.”
“One must also be invertebrate,” Mr. James points out.
“Such rules are for the lower classes,” Lady Wells says. “For a chiefly marine animal of quality, exceptions can always be made.”
“Ridiculous,” Mr. James says. “A mollusc with bones cannot perform traditional mollusc duties.”
Lady Wells raises an eyebrow.
“It’s true,” Mr. James says. “If an oyster had bones, it’d ruin the oyster bar.”
“Oysters,” Lady Wells says, dismissively.
“Or snails. If you use a snake, a puppy dog tail, and a bony snail to make a little boy, wouldn’t the little boy have too many bones? If a clam had bones, wouldn’t it lack the obligatory clam happiness? Nor could you have a clam bake without a preceding clam fillet.”
“A periwinkle could twinkle better if it had a spine,” Lady Wells points out. “It takes a spine to be cheerful in this modern world. And a bony scallop could wallop smaller shallots.”
Mr. James frowns. “Is that the scallops’ traditional duty?”
“The age-old war between scallops and shallots has been . . . let us say, one-sided.”
“The quahog,” Mr. James proposes.
“A perfect example of my point,” Lady Wells answers. “The quahogs, like their terrene cousins, were vertebrates, until adopted.”
“It is better to have bones,” Mr. James agrees, reluctantly.
“They’re osserific,” Lady Wells concludes.