“SOME of the shells you have just shown us,” said Jules, “shine inside like the handle of that pretty penknife you bought me the day of the fair—you know?—that four-bladed penknife with the mother-of-pearl handle.”
“That is plain enough. Mother-of-pearl, that pretty substance that shines with all the colors of the rainbow, comes from certain shells. We use for delicate ornamentation what was once the dwelling of a glairy animal, near relation to the oyster. Truly, this dwelling is a veritable palace in richness. It shines with all imaginable tints, as if the rainbow had deposited its colors there.
“This is the shell that furnishes the most beautiful mother-of-pearl. It is called the meleagrina margaritifera. Outside it is wrinkled and blackish-green; inside it is smoother than polished marble, richer in color than the rainbow. All tints are found there, bright, but soft and changeable, according to the point of view.”