Sad to say, the candy bar that the commander had worked so hard on never became a success. Perhaps the fault lay in its name. He had often said—thinking of Lickety Twist, such a triumph!—that the name was everything. But he had named the candy bar Little Ruthie and it simply never caught on.

He didn't care, really. His fortune was already vast, and when his son was restored to him—and when he married Nanny (it should come as no surprise that that is what he did)—he felt fulfilled in every way.

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Names, though, did remain a bit of a problem. In the happy confusion on the evening of Commander Melanoff's son's reappearance, one of the twins asked the disheveled boy, "What's your name?"

And the boy replied, "Barnaby."

The twins looked at each other. "C?" one suggested.

"See what?" asked the new Barnaby.

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"See my son!" Commander Melanoff exclaimed, still beside himself with joy. He cupped the boy's dirty face in his hands, kissed each cheek, and beamed down at him.

"No," the twins explained. "We meant that we're also Barnabys."

"I'm Barnaby A," said one.

"And I'm Barnaby B. So he has to be C."

"Nonsense! No son of mine is going to be C! Do you two have middle names? We'll rename you with your middle names."

The twins sighed and shuffled their feet in embarrassment. Tim stepped forward to explain. "I'm Timothy Anthony Malachy Willoughby," he pointed out, "because our parents, who were—excuse me, Nanny—dolts, thought it was important to have as many syllables as possible. That is, if one was a boy." He glanced sympathetically at his sister, Jane.

"And so the twins are—?"

"Well, the night the twins were born, they had just been to an Italian restaurant. So they are—" He looked at his brothers. "Do you want to say it?" he asked them. The twins nodded.

"I'm Barnaby Linguini Rotini Willoughby," one said with a sigh.

"And I'm Barnaby Ravioli Fusilli Willoughby," his brother, blushing, explained.

"Oh my goodness," Commander Melanoff said. "I don't quite know what to do about that. But I am not fond of A, B, and C. I fear it will hinder you eventually in the business world.

"Any suggestions?" He looked around, seeking help.

"Why don't we change their names?" Tim said.

"Yes! I'd so like to be Bill!" Barnaby A said.

"And could I be Joe?" his twin asked.

And so it was done. They went before a judge, were adopted along with their sister and brother, and became Bill and Joe, which they remained their entire lives, very happily. After the children all became official Melanoffs, the commander stopped wondering where he had heard the name Willoughby before. (Had he not burned it along with all the Swiss correspondence, he might have reread the note that had once been attached to Baby Ruth, noticed the penciled instruction—" If there is any reward to be had for this beastly baby, it must go to the Willoughbys"—and it would have answered the question. But it might have raised new questions, and so it is fortuitous that the note—and the mystery—disappeared.)

The third Barnaby retained his name but was always known as Junior. (Commander Melanoff's name, it seemed, was also Barnaby.) He later invented something called Junior Mints, which might have been quite successful, had someone else, as it turned out, not already invented them. Nothing ever surpassed Lickety Twist.

Baby Ruth, when she became an adult, made a search for her biological mother and found that the woman's life had taken a turn for the better and she was now living quite comfortably in Champaign, Illinois. Ruth had the wicker basket gold-plated, as a souvenir, and gave it to her for Christmas.

She married, surprisingly, her stepbrother Tim, who, as predicted, became an attorney. The brass plate on his office door at the candy factory said: TIMOTHY ANTHONY MALACHY WILLOUGHBY MELANOFF, ESQUIRE, OF COUNSEL. The job allowed him to be bossy and belittling, but he adored his wife and was never ruthless again.

The twins, Bill and Joe, never married. Today they operate a chain of clothing stores called Big Sweaters, which offers two-for-one prices to parents of twins.

Jane grew up and became a professor of feminist literature. Eventually she married a man named Smith and had triplet daughters, whom she named Lavender, Arpeggio, and Noxzema.

The postmaster and his wife, in Switzerland, ran the little post office efficiently for many, many years. They never had children, and just as well, because they didn't care for the mess that children made. Sometimes Commander Melanoff, with his second wife, Nanny, and their six children when they were still young, visited Switzerland on vacations: hiking in the summer, skiing in the winter. They always cordially stopped in the village post office to say hello and have a cup of tea.

During such visits, the four former Willoughbys, who had no connection, after all, to the postmaster and his wife, always excused themselves politely and took a few moments to walk together up the serene little path nearby. There, at the foot of the mountain, they stood solemnly, passing binoculars back and forth and gazing at the treacherous peak that had orphaned the four of them. Together they saluted the distant figures of their parents, who had frozen into place, happy to have achieved such heights, with gleaming smiles on their faces forever.

It was not a sad occasion, really. Just something the Willoughbys did and always followed with cocoa.

THE END

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