Keldrick was in trouble.
Well, now, okay; that statement is wholly inadequate to explain the situation. First off, it should be added that Keldrick is a giant. That might be unnecessary, as the Keldrick clan of Nice Giants is renowned far and wide. More pertinent, perhaps, is the fact that this Keldrick is one of the youngest members of the clan, and is known as Keldrick the Tiny.
How did a giant, even a young one, end up with such a name? It may help to point out that all of the male members of the Keldrick clan are named Keldrick (well, all of the male members except for Margaret).
The older members of the clan have descriptive names emphasizing that they are nice giants. There is Keldrick the Good, Keldrick the Nice, Keldrick the Pleasant, Keldrick the Kind, Keldrick the Good-Natured, Keldrick the Friendly, Keldrick the Hospitable, Keldrick the Decent, … all the way down to Keldrick the Not at all Unpleasant Once You Get to Know Him.
However, those names are for the adult males, who get them when they reach adulthood. For the giant children, the names start at Keldrick the Young, Keldrick the Younger, Keldrick the Slightly Younger, Keldrick the Much Younger, and so forth until the names change over to Keldrick the Small, Keldrick the Slightly Smaller, and Keldrick the Little just to name a few. Finally, at the end of a fortnight which saw a series of baby Keldricks born into the world, Keldrick the Reasonably Nice and his wife Meloda the Excellent Cook found themselves desperately racking their brains for a name and able only to come up with Keldrick the Tiny.
It didn’t help that Keldrick the Tiny was underweight at birth, weighing just a bit more than twenty kilograms; or that he remained smaller than most of his relatives through his third year at school. Of course, with so many of his kinsmen also enrolled at the school, everyone felt it necessary to add “the Tiny” to his name any time they spoke to him. He hated the name and hearing it made his blood boil, or at least simmer. As a result, he “acted out” more and more at school. After the child reacted to the taunts of a pair of dwarves by smashing their desks, his teacher sent a stern warning note home to his worried parents that Keldrick the Tiny was on the verge of badly tarnishing the reputation of generations of Keldricks at the school.
Shaken by that thought, the parents had sent the missive to the clan council, which promptly called a mass meeting of the clan to address the matter. Most of the children, and even many of the adult Keldricks, admitted privately that they would have likely smashed the dwarves rather than merely their desks (even nice giants have tempers) and furthermore the adults regarded the child as very well-behaved and a credit to his parents. Nevertheless, a letter from a teacher had to be taken seriously.
The problem facing the council and the clan was that the issue underlying all was Keldrick’s descriptive name. Tradition held that the name could not be changed until the child was old enough for his adult name. No exception had ever been made, and many of the older adults were of the opinion that the child should simply square his shoulders and deal with it, as a proper Keldrick should. Others disagreed, and the tone of the meeting steadily became more strident until it seemed all would dissolve into chaos; a first for any clan meeting.
Perhaps ironically, or possibly altogether fittingly, it was Margaret whose voice finally rose above all the others; though this had more to do with his piercing falsetto than any willingness on the part of the rest to yield the floor.
Margaret stood and stepped up onto the raised speakers’ platform, his long violet taffeta skirts rustling loudly in the sudden silence. A matching violet high-necked and long-puffy-sleeved silk blouse was topped by a jet-black bustier with pearl striping. Side slits in the taffeta skirts revealed well-turned black-silk-clad legs ending in violet stiletto-heeled pumps. Heavy gold chains with amethyst pendants encircled Margaret’s neck and both wrists and gold-caged amethyst “pearls” dangled from his ears. His long raven hair was gathered and held up by mother-of-pearl combs. More than a few Keldricks were fascinated despite themselves, and hoped their wives were taking notes.
“It may be that we cannot change the boy’s given descriptive and break tradition.” Margaret stroked the air with long sweeps of his black silk fan. “Even so, it seems that we could agree to call young Keldrick something else until he can be given a new name.”
Beginning with a deep and bellowing “Harrumph”, the head of the council, Keldrick the Mostly Friendly, was embarking on a stately and stentorian objection that all of the less-embarrassing descriptives were already taken, when Keldrick the Tiny jumped up excitedly and ran up on the speakers’ platform.
“That’s it! That’s perfect!” The platform vibrated in harmony with his eager bouncing.
“Well of course it is.” Margaret giggled at the happy child, but a puzzled frown swept his face. “What is?”
“Put a descriptive before my name! I could be ‘Young Keldrick’; that would explain everything!”
Keldrick the Mostly Friendly fixed the lad with a sharp look. “You realize it would have to be an informal name, like a nickname. It would not change your descriptive name.”
“I don’t care! People would use it and that would identify me. They wouldn’t have to add ‘the Tiny’ all the time. I could handle that!” The boy hugged Margaret with such enthusiasm that the adult covered his face with his fan to hide sudden blushing. “Thank you! Oh, thank you!”
“You’re quite welcome, Young Keldrick.” Unaccustomed to such displays of affection, Margaret could think of nothing to do other than patting the child on the shoulder.
Other adult voices were raised in support of the idea and many of the children, male and female, whose names included the words “Small” and “Little”, were asking their parents if they could adopt nicknames too.
In the end, the notion was adopted with as close to a unanimous vote as any proposal in a clan meeting had ever gotten. Releasing the still-nonplussed Margaret at last, the newly-nicknamed Young Keldrick bounded off the speakers’ platform into the arms of his happy parents.
And now you know why the Keldricks and Melodas of the Keldrick clan of Nice Giants have nicknames before their names to go with their descriptive names behind.
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I was unable to find any images of a violet taffeta dress. I hope the image I found will suffice.