Really Truly Ruthie is the companion book for Ruthie Smithens; it is considered an extension of the Kit series. It was included with the Ruthie doll when the doll was available for purchase; with the collection's archival, it can be purchased separately.
From Kit's series
- Ruthie Smithens
- Kit Kittredge
- Margaret Kittredge
- Jack Kittredge
- Charles Kittredge
- Louise Howard
- Stirling Howard
- Stan Smithens
Only in Really Truly Ruthie
Chapter by Chapter Summary
Chapter One: Apples and Kindness
As Ruthie walks to the Kittredge's house with a crate of apples, she thinks how the phrase "once upon a time" beings all wonderful adventures. Ruthie is happy that it's December 26, which is her favorite day (instead of Christmas or her birthday); this is because it's the special day where Ruthie, Kit, and their mothers go together on an outing in downtown Cincinnati and she can't wait for the day to start. Ruthie reaches Kit's house and knocks on the door. Kit opens the door and announces Ruthie's presence to the rest of the boarders, and tells Ruthie she's just in time to say goodbye to her father; Dad's been hired to drive Mr. and Mrs. Bell to Florida since the couple can't drive themselves. As Kit drags Ruthie along through her house, Ruthie ponders how her house can be too tidy, calm, and quiet sometimes. That's why Ruthie loves Kit's house so much; something was always happening. There is chaos and commotion in the house as Mr. Kittredge, Charlie, and Mr. Peck study a road map, Ms. Hart and Ms. Finney help Mrs. Kittredge with the dishes, Mrs. Howard tries unsuccessfully to give Mrs. Bell Stirling's hot water bottle, and Mr. Bell shakes everyone's hand goodbye.
Mr. Kittredge and the Bells soon drive off, and Ruthie asks Kit how long her dad will be gone. Kit explains her dad will take four days to drive to Florida, and another four days to drive back home. Ruthie calculates that Kit's dad would be back on January 2nd, which Kit confirms. The two share a quick, uneasy glance at each other. They both knew Mr. Kittredge needs to to be back with the mortgage payment on the 2nd, or else the Kittredges will lose their home to the bank (as explained in Kit's Surprise). Ruthie's father, Mr. Smithens, had let the the Kittredges know that he's held off the bank as long as possible, but they must pay some of their money after the holidays.
Ruthie changes to a nicer subject and asks Kit if she remembers what day it is. Kit happily says she could never forget their special day, and the two go to ask Kit's mother when she'll be ready. In the kitchen, Stirling and Charlie lift up the crate of apples. Stirling bets that Ruthie brought the apples over and Charlie teases Ruthie that she waved a magic wand to bring them over. Ruthie explains her family got a lot of apples this Christmas and her mother was hoping Kit's family would use some of them so they wouldn't go to waste. Charlie says that nothing is wasted around here as he grabs an apple for himself and Stirling, and Mrs. Kittredge thanks Ruthie. Secretly relieved, the Kittredges accepted the apples without a fuss, Ruthie recalls the conspiracy of kindness she and her mother were in. The two would try to find ways to help the Kittredges whenever they could. Ruthie recently learned the hard way that generosity was tricky, and she had to be careful and respectful when giving things to Kit and her family. Kit reminds her mother about their special day and Mrs. Kittredge grows worried. She tells Kit she's unsure if she can go as she goes through a list of chores she has to do. Just as Ruthie and Kit's hopes fade, Mrs. Howard tells Kit's mother she mustn't think of missing her special day and explains she, Stirling, and Charlie would do the chores. The boys happily agree to help and Mrs. Howard tells the girls to run off now, shaking her soapy spoon while doing so.
The trio head off to Ruthie's house to pick up Mrs. Smithens and they all go to downtown Cincinnati. The two families had an agreement to do only free activities today, so the girls begin with window shopping. Kit points out a snowy mountain in one of the windows and Ruthie takes a look at it. On the mountain, Ruthie also sees a snowman being pulled in a sled. Ruthie comments that the display reminds her of the silver forest the twelve dancing princesses sneaked through on their way to the ball. While Kit was sometimes impatient with Ruthie's interest in fairly tales, today Kit just smiled and asked Ruthie, "Don't you wish you could be in that sleigh, flying down the mountain?" Ruthie shares her personal wish to ride a sleigh like the one in the display. The girls and their mothers spend the rest of their day walking around downtown and Ruthie feels completely happy. She thinks that if she were in a fairy tale and had three wishes, she'd use them all to wish that they could all be as relaxed and carefree as they were now.
The Smithens drop Kit and her mother off at Uncle Hendrick's house and as they say goodbye, Mrs. Smithens manages to sneak their picnic leftovers into the Kittredge's basket. As the Smithens drive off, Ruthie wishes there was more they could do to help and she asks her mother if they could give them money. Mrs. Smithens says they offered multiple times, but Kit's parents refused each time. She explains all they can give them is apples and kindness. The two agree to pick up Mr. Smithens from the bank. When they arrive, Mr. Smithens is reading some papers and frowning. His face brightens up when he sees his family coming to greet him and after Ruthie hugs her father, she runs over to his chair and beings to spin. her father tells her mother he still has a few more hours of work as Ruthie continues to spin. When she tries to stop by grabbing onto the desk, she accidentally knocks over some folders. When Ruthie gathers them up, she notices the word KITTREDGE on a note attached to the folder. Ruthie couldn't help but read the note and grows dizzy with dismay when she realizes the note reads the Kittredges are to be evicted on December 28th; when the bank said the holidays, they meant the Christmas ones.
Ruthie begins to panic, wondering what she could do to help them. Kit's father wouldn't be back on time, they wouldn't accept her family's money, and her father couldn't delay the bank any longer. Ruthie knew that apples and kindness weren't going to help. The Kittredges needed money and fast.
Chapter Two: Goofy Ruthie
On the way back home, Ruthie asks her mother if she could be dropped off at Kit's house for a quick talk. At Kit's house Charlie opens the door for Ruthie and mentions "Long time, no see." Ruthie blushes, wondering if Charlie was hinting she was a pest, but she pushes it out of her mind as she asks where Kit is. Charlie answers and Ruthie rushes to the kitchen where Kit is alone, peeling an apple. Kit is surprised to see Ruthie but Ruthie tells Kit about the note before Kit could say anything. Kit, whose family thought the bank meant after the New Year's holidays instead of the Christmas holidays, is shocked. Ruthie offers her $10 she got for Christmas but Kit declines, explaining their bill is more than 200 dollars.
Kit takes off her apron, saying she'll have to tell her mother the news. Ruthie suggest her mother could ask Uncle Hendrick for the money, but Kit explains they already asked and he refused. Kit slumps into a chair and Ruthie thinks she never saw her friend look so defeated. Kit shares her sorrows, saying how her Uncle will gloat if they lose their house and their main source of income, the boarders. Kit says it would be so humiliating. Ruthie thinks back to the sight of furniture dumped on the sidewalk due to an eviction, and sympathizes with her friend. Ruthie asks if her Aunt Millie would lend the money. Kit nods and Ruthie offers the use of her phone, but Kit explains her Aunt doesn't have a phone and lives miles away from the nearest one. A letter wouldn't arrive on time, so the only way to reach Aunt Millie would be for Kit's mother to ride the train.
Kit wonders where her mother would get the train fare. Ruthie gets an idea and suggests that she and Kit could both go on the train ride using Ruthie's Christmas money. Kit tells Ruthie to stop being silly, but Ruthie tells her plan. They both go on the train using Ruthie's money and with the excuse that they were both at each other's house, go to Aunt Millie's, go back, give the money to Ruthie's father to put in the bank and solve the problem without any worry or shame. Kit says it's a crazy plan, but Ruthie says "Crazy makes sense at a time like this." Kit's mother would still be in Uncle Hendrick's house the next day and Ruthie's mother would be volunteering the entire day, so Kit and Ruthie would hopefully arrive home without anyone noticing. Kit agrees to the plan, hardly believing she was doing such a thing and Ruthie leaves before Kit could change her mind.
The next morning, Ruthie is waiting at the station, wondering where Kit was. She looks around for Kit, but instead sees Charlie. Ruthie tries to hide behind her pocket book, but Charlie manages to find her. He tells Ruthie the jig is up and he's here to take Ruthie home, but Ruthie doesn't move. Charlie explains Kit told him the plan and he called off the whole thing, but Ruthie still doesn't move. Charlie sighs, telling Ruthie that while it was nice to help, this wasn't a fairy tale that Ruthie was the hero of, but instead real life where Ruthie was just a kid. While Ruthie had sort of thought of the trip like an adventure, she doesn't admit it to Charlie and tells him she was serious with the plan. Charlie calls Ruthie ridiculous, trying to find Aunt Millie without even knowing where she lived. Ruthie says people will help her and she already got two round trip tickets. Charlie gives an exasperated sigh and tells Ruthie he'll go with her to Mountain Hollow.
Ruthie looks down at her lap so Charlie couldn't see her expression. Ruthie knew everyone saw her as goofy Ruthie, the Ruthie who was more in home in fairy tales then in reality. While Ruthie was seen as nice and funny, she wasn't considered practical or capable. Everyone, even Kit and Stirling, thought that Ruthie wasn't able to understand the damage of the Depression since her dad still had his job. But people underestimated Ruthie's compassion and most of the time, Ruthie would pretend to be daffy and flighty to cheer others up Ruthie was tired of not being taken seriously, however, and as she looks up at Charlie's eyes, she decides that instead of giving the money to her dad, she would give the money straight to Mrs. Kittredge. This way she could show everyone she could be serious. Ruthie allows Charlie to travel with her as she picks up her stuff and heads to the station.
Inside the train, Charlie asks Ruthie how she knew how to buy the tickets. Ruthie explains that she often took a train to her horseback riding lessons. Charlie teases Ruthie, saying she had to know how to ride a horse in order to be a fairy tale princess. Ruthie is annoyed, and she grows more determined to get the money. During the train ride, Ruthie is too nervous to read her new fairy tale book East of the Sun and West of the Moon, so she talks to the other passengers in the train. She shares her lunch with two teenage girls and entertains a little boy on the train. His mother thanks Ruthie, explaining she needed the energy to dance at a dance her town held in between Christmas and New Year's.
When the conductor announces the next stop is Lewis Falls, Ruthie notices the stop after Lewis Falls is theirs. Ruthie asks Charlie how to get from Poncton to Mountain Hollow. Charlie doesn't know since their family usually drove from there, but a fellow passenger tells the two there's a fast walking route at Lewis Falls. Charlie is doubtful, but Ruthie happily takes the man's advice.
The two get off at Lewis Falls and Ruthie begins to grow doubtful as well. The station is run down, the only other passengers who got off, the two teenage girls, immediately ran off, and the walking path was more of a muddy fully that had low-hanging tree branches gnarled up along the path. The branches remind Ruthie of the brambles that grew around Sleeping Beauty's castle, but she doesn't mention her thought to Charlie, who already thought she was a goofy Ruthie, a less-then-reliable guide.
Chapter Three: East of the Sun and West of the Moon
As Ruthie and Charlie walk up the hill, Charlie asks Ruthie if it was right of her to trust the old man on the train. Ruthie says yes with more confidence then she felt, and adds she wishes they didn't have to walk all the way. As she said that, the two hear jingling and look behind to see the two teenagers from the train riding a sleigh with their father. They offer the two a ride as far as Ferndale, up to a split road where Ruthie and Charlie could go to Mountain Hollow. The two happily accept the ride. While it would have been faster for Ruthie and Charlie to walk since the horse was so slow, the ride was cheerful with their singing and they both agreed it was better than walking.
After the sleigh drops Ruthie and Charlie off, the two continue to walk the road. Charlie points out as they trudge up the hill that there wasn't a sign pointing to Mountain Hollow and they were blindly trusting strangers again. Charlie tells Ruthie that while being kind to strangers and having them help you out later on worked in fairy tales, it doesn't work out in real life. Ruthie sighs and says Charlie must think she's silly, but Charlie feels she's more mistaken then silly. He says that not everyone is nice and honest like Ruthie and people are going to take advantage of Ruthie. He explains that if Ruthie is foolishly optimistic, then she's going to get let down. Ruthie understands that the world had let Charlie down and instead of going to college he had to work from dawn everyday. Struggling to express her thoughts, Ruthie explains she doesn't believe life always works out happily like in fairy tales and she doesn't like them just for the wishes and happy endings. She explains she likes them because "they show that no matter what happens to us, it's how we act along the way that matters." Ruthie shares that she'd rather be foolish but hopeful instead of smart but stingy and distrustful.
Charlie is silent with thought until he recognizes the area near Aunt Millie's house. The two grow more cheerful as they approach the house, but begin to despair when they see it's empty. Ruthie worries that if they don't find Millie, then the trip would be a waste, the Kittredges wouldn't get the money they needed, and Ruthie would confirm everyone's opinion that Ruthie was useless. Trying to sound sure, Ruthie suggests that Millie was visiting some friends. As the two get to town though, all of the other houses were also deserted. Charlie mentions that the town was like an enchanted village in one of Ruthie's fairy tales where everyone disappears between Christmas and New Year's. Ruthie suddenly remembers a party the mother on the train mentioned and wonders if Mountain hollow had a similar party. Ruthie and Charlie go to the town church and are relieved to see the church is full of life.
When they enter the church, everyone at the party stares at them. Aunt Millie is surprised to see Charlie and greets herself to Ruthie. She offers Ruthie and Charlie something to eat before they ask what they came here for. As Ruthie eats and talks with the girls her age, Aunt Millie spots the East of the Sun and West of the Moon book in Ruthie's basket and mentions it's one of her favorites. Ruthie is surprised to see an adult who read fairy tales and Aunt Millie explains that fairy tales have the wisdom of the ages in them.
Aunt Millie then asks them what they want and Charlie explains the situation. Aunt Millie happily agrees to lend the money. Charlie promises to pay the money back, but Aunt Millie tells him not to worry too much about it as she doesn't have much to buy. She tells the banker to open up as she needs to make a transaction. When he points out the time, she threatens to tell everyone how long he took to understand his fractions and everyone laughs.
Chapter Four: Wishes Come True
When Aunt Millie takes out the money, she asks who will hold the money. Charlie says he thinks Ruthie should hold the money, causing Ruthie to be happily surprised at Charlie's trust for her. As Ruthie puts the money in her pocketbook, Aunt Millie tells her that this was a great responsibility, but she had already proven her trust by arriving at Mountain Hollow. Ruthie promises to bring the money to Cincinnati, but the banker points out that they missed the last train.
Ruthie and Charlie start to panic and the banker mentions there's one more train going to Cincinnati. The only problem was that it won't stop at Poncton or Lewis Falls. Aunt Millie is determined to flag the train down, so she rallies up the whole town. People begin to pile into trucks and sleighs as everyone holds an unlighted lantern to see by.
In the next hour, Ruthie rides in the high seat of the sleigh that, while not the sleigh she admired in the store window, still was better than how she imagined the sleigh ride to be. When they arrive at the Poncton station, everyone lights up their lanterns and start to swing them when they see the train. The train stops and the conductor asks harshly what's going on. Aunt Millie calmly tells the conductor they have two passengers for him and the conductor recognizing Millie, sheepishly allows Ruthie and Charlie in. As they board the train, everyone starts to yell goodbye and continue to wave as Ruthie looks out the window.
During the trip home, Ruthie falls asleep despite her intention to stay awake, and Charlie holds the pocketbook. Later, when they reach the Smithenses' house, Charlie hands Ruthie back her pocketbook and tells her she could give the money to her dad as planned. Ruthie tells Charlie that she wanted to give the money right into Mrs. Kittredge's hands and Charlie allows her. On the way to the house though, Charlie thanks Ruthie, saying his family was lucky to have a friend like her.
His words remind Ruthie why she went to get the money. It wasn't for praise or glory, but rather because the Kittredges were her friends. Ruthie realizes she would feel disrespectful if she got praise from Mrs. Kittredge as she also realizes she only wanted Kit and Charlie to know what she did. Ruthie tells Charlie her wish to have her actions kept a secret for as long as possible and he complies. Ruthie thanks Charlie for coming with her and mentions she would do the whole thing again if she could. Charlie laughs and agrees with Ruthie, calling her goofy Ruthie. This time however, the name feels like praise to Ruthie.
A week later, Ruthie, Kit and Stirling look at the trees and try to figure which one they should build their tree house in. Kit is unsure if they will ever be able to build a tree house, but Ruthie tells Kit that wishes take a while to come true. The trio head inside to see Mr. Kittredge talking about his trip. He was surprised and happy to see that the family was saved from eviction and he thanks Charlie for his actions. Charlie looks at Ruthie and asks her to answer a question since she was an expert on wishes. He asks if he could override someone else's wish to grant his own and if Ruthie said yes, then it would grant his own wish. Kit adds it would also grant her own wish as well.
Everyone is confused by Charlie's question, but Ruthie smiles a tiny bit and reluctantly nods. Charlie then begins to tell the story about Ruthie. "Not the Ruthie we know, but really truly Ruthie. My story has a happy ending, and like all wonderful adventures it begins, 'Once upon a time...'"
Looking Back: Apples and Kindness: Getting Through the Great Depression
Discusses charitable acts people did for one another during the Great Depression. Topics covered:
- People who were not affected by the Depression having to be cautious when trying to help their friends and neighbors without ruining their pride.
- The Secret Helpers, a group of New Jersey girls who would secretly give gifts of food and clothes to families in need in their small town.
- The government programs Franklin Roosevelt designed to give people jobs rather than hand-outs, and the varied responses they received.
- Eleanor Roosevelt's newspaper column "My Day", in which she would write about the people she met in Washington D.C. and her travels around America.
- Letters Mrs. Roosevelt received because of her column, with many letters coming from those who were asking for specific items or new jobs.
- The surprise parties neighbors held for a family in need, and the rent parties that were held to help raise money to pay rent payments.
- People who rented their homes for those who needed them, including one teacher who took in a young girl who had wanted to attend high school.