Here is my paraphrased version of Kit’s Surprise by Valerie Tripp. When I opened the book to reread it for this post I had an “aw..” moment when I read that Valerie Tripp had dedicated it to Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford. These two women wrote and composed The American Girls Revue (click to see doll version) and The Circle of Friends (my dolls will act that out in April). I had to change the ending of Kit’s surprise story. In the real version, Kit never gets to wear her Christmas dress in the actual story, she only thinks about it and then the story ends. But I like Kit’s Christmas dress so much that I had Ruthie tell her to put it on before she unwrapped her presents!
Kit and Ruthie were blowing about like the leaves around them, as they went on their way to the movies. When the girls got close to the theater Kit bent down and pulled her coat down over her dress.
“Are you okay, Kit? Why are you all hunched over like that?” asked Ruthie.
“Because, I don’t want everyone to see the rickrack on my dress.”
“Why not? It’s cute.”
“Cute? I hate it! I think it looks terrible,” Kit assumed everyone would automatically see that she had outgrown her dress but was too poor to get a new one.
Luckily, Ruthie was a kind friend who didn’t need explanations to be nice, “Walk behind me then. I’ll cover you up until we’re inside, then it will be dark and no one will see.”
Kit scrunched up behind Ruthie.
Once they got inside the dark theater Kit immediately spread her coat on her lap to cover her dress.
“Want some?” offered generous Ruthie as she held her popcorn box out for Kit.
Kit just took two pieces because she didn’t want to be a moocher. Ever since her dad had lost his job five months ago Kit felt guilty and embarrassed whenever Ruthie acted generously. Ruthie had even bought her movie ticket for her. Kit felt bad about that at first but once the newsreel started she forgot about her feelings. The newsreel showed Amelia Earhart smiling and waving. When Kit had found out that she was the first woman in history to fly a plane across the Atlantic Ocean all by herself, Amelia had become Kit’s heroine. She barely even paid attention to the actual movie about a silly woman dancing up a staircase wearing a tiara, because she kept thinking about what it would be like to be Amelia Earhart.
Kit realized that Amelia Earhart wouldn’t let a thing like rickrack bother her so she walked upright as she and Ruthie left the theater.
“Wasn’t she wonderful?”Ruthie turned to Kit.
“Yes! I loved it when she boarded the plane and..”
“Not Amelia Earhart!” laughed Ruthie, “I meant Dottie Drew, the movie star!”
“Wasn’t she beautiful? Like a princess, almost.”
“Uh, sure,” Kit didn’t share the same fascination Ruthie did about princesses. Kit thought it was rather silly but she didn’t want to be rude and tell Ruthie so, however, Ruthie wasn’t fooled.
“I bet you didn’t notice Dottie Drew at all,” she said, “you were more into Amelia Earhart. Why are you so crazy about her anyway?”
“She’s smart and brave, too. When she wants to do something, she doesn’t let anything stop her! She doesn’t need any help from anybody! I want to be just like her!” Kit spoke with determination.
“I know what you mean. I love to imagine that I’m a movie star or a princess.”
Kit did not think it was the same thing at all, “That’s different, Ruthie. First of all, Amelia Earhart’s a real person who does real things that really matter. Imagining you’re a princess is just make-believe.”
“So? There’s nothing wrong with make-believe.”
“Maybe not, but it doesn’t help solve any problems or help anything.”
“Oh, I think it does,” said Ruthie. “Make-believe can take your mind off your troubles for a while.”
Their disagreement was put to a stop as they neared Kit’s front steps.
“Why don’t you come inside and help me write an article about the movie we saw.”
“Okay,” said Ruthie.
Ruthie leaned over Kit’s shoulder to read what Kit was writing.
“Wait a minute,” said Ruthie, “It’s Dottie Drew, not Duttio Drow. And she’s a movie star, not a muvio tar. You’d better fix those mistakes.”
“I can’t,” sighed Kit, “My typewriter keys are broken. The o looks like a u and the e looks like an o and the s doesn’t work at all.”
“Oh, well, that’s okay,” said Ruthie. She grinned and said slowly, “I mean.. uh, woll. That ukay.”
Kit grinned, “I guess people will figure it out. There’s still some space left. What else do you want to put?”
“Christmas!”cried Ruthie, “we can put what our favorite thing is about Christmas. What’s yours, Kit?”
“Christmas Eve,” said Kit, “that’s when we put our tree up and put the lights on and decorate it. It’s our tradition.”
“I love the tradition we have,” said Ruthie, “when we go downtown with our mothers on the day after Christmas.”
“Ruthie, I’m sorry. I’m afraid – ”
But Ruthie talked over her. “I know you and your mother are awfully busy this year, what with the boarding house and all, so I was thinking that maybe this year, instead of the whole day, we could just go for a couple hours instead.”
“Time isn’t the only problem, Ruthie,” Kit said, “My mother and I don’t have money for lunch at a fancy restaurant, or tickets for a show.”
“That’s what I figured. I thought we could just go window shopping and have a winter picnic or something.”
“I think,” said Kit slowly, “it would wreck our tradition to change it. And I would have to wear this old rick rack dress which I hate.”
“Find a wicked ogre to spin gold or enchant you or something. Maybe he can grant you three wishes.”
Kit was annoyed, “For Pete’s sake! It takes work, not wishes to solve problems. There are no ogres in Cincinnati anyway.”
Ruthie just grinned, “Watch out! If you’re not nice, the ogre makes snakes and toads come out of your mouth. How’d you like that?”
“Not much,” said Kit as she impatiently pushed the silver arm that moved the paper up and out of the typewriter but she pushed a little too hard because it came off in her hand.
“Oh no! Now the typewriter won’t work at all!”
“Uh-oh, can you screw it back on?”
“Come on,” said Ruthie, heading for the stairs, “let’s go get your dad, I bet he can fix it.”
The two girls hurried down the stairs and paused in the hallway because they heard Kit’s parents talking to someone. They sounded serious and they didn’t want to interrupt.
“I’ve come today as a friend,” it was Mr.Smithens, Ruthie’s father, who was a banker talking, “Your name is on a list of people who owe money to the bank, people who’re behind on their mortgage payments. I came to warn you that if you can’t catch up on your payments, the bank will take your house and you’ll be evicted.”
Evicted! Kit felt as if she’d been hit hard in the stomach.
“I’ll hold off the bank until after the holidays,”Ruthie’s dad said, “but if you can borrow the money from someone, you should.”
“Thanks, Stan,” Kit’s dad said, “We’ll figure something out.”
Kit could hardly breathe. Evicted! She and her family were going to be thrown out of their house with their belongings tossed out on the street!
Ruthie touched her arm, “Oh, Kit, what will you do? I wish..”
Wish! thought Kit. She jerked her arm away. She couldn’t bear to have Ruthie talk about wishes and princesses now. It was bad enough that Ruthie had to hear this news. Kit turned sharply and went up the stairs to her room,
leaving Ruthie all alone in the hall.
That night Kit’s mother left right after dinner to ask an old rich relative called Uncle Hendrick for money so they wouldn’t be evicted. Kit was reading in bed when her mother came back.
“Uncle Hendrick said no, didn’t he?” said Kit.
“How did – ”
“I heard Mr.Smithens talking to you and Dad,” said Kit in her straightforward way. “I know about us being evicted. I figured you went to Uncle Hendrick for money.”
“I’m sorry, Kit” said Mother sadly, “It’s not fair for a child to have to worry about such things. But you’re right. Uncle Hendrick believes money should be earned by hard work, not given away. He says we’ve been living beyond our means and that it was foolish of us for buying this big house in the first place. If we are evicted, he wants us to come live with him.”
Kit sat bolt upright. “Oh, no! We’d hate that!”
Mother smiled a sad smile, “we may not have a choice. At this point, we don’t have enough money to pay even the electric bill.”
Kit couldn’t bear to see Mother look so defeated. “I’ll find a way to help, Mother. I promise I will.”
“Well, there is a way you can help, though I don’t think it’ll make any money.”
“What is it?”
“Uncle Hendrick says he’s ill,” said Mother, “I think he’s really just lonely and fretful, but he wants me to come back every day until he feels better. I don’t see how I can do it with all these boarders we’ve taken on. Would you be willing to do it? He’ll need someone to keep him company and walk his dog.”
Kit’s heart sank. Uncle Hendrick’s old dog, Inky, was the meanest, most hateful dog in Cincinnati. He was even meaner than Uncle Hendrick. Uncle Hendrick was exactly like Ebenezer Scrooge before the ghosts visited him.
“I know it’s a lot to ask,” said Mother, “but it would be a great help to me.”
“I’ll do it,” said Kit. It was a her only chance to help.
Mother hugged Kit, “That’s my girl. Now don’t read too long. Good night!”
Kit switched off her light and lay in the dark thinking, Maybe Uncle Hendrick won’t be so bad after all.
But it was bad. In fact, it was terrible. Kit ended up missing the streetcar and had to run to make it to Uncle Hendrick’s in time.
“What are you doing here?” he bellowed over Inky’s yapping.
“Mother’s too busy, I’m here instead.”
“I don’t want you. Go away.”
Kit didn’t budge. She’d promised Mother that she would help. It would take more than Uncle Hendrick’s bluster and Inky’s snarls to discourage her.
“Well, you’re here, so you might as well stay,” Uncle Hendrick grumped, “but hurry up and come in! Don’t stand there like a fool letting the heat out. It costs good money. If your family had paid more attention to how much things like heat cost, you wouldn’t be in the state you’re in now.”
“Yes sir,” said Kit as she walked inside.
Kit noticed once the door closed that everything was dark and gloomy inside. Uncle Hendrick sat by the fire. Kit went to give him the nickel for the streetcar she hadn’t used.
“What’s that?” he snapped, peering at the coin.
“It’s the nickel you gave Mother for the streetcar. I missed it so..”
“I don’t care if you came on a winged chariot,” Uncle Hendrick impatiently gave it back to her, “You came here on time and that’s all that matters.”
“You mean I can keep it?”
“Yes! Now stop jabbering! Hand me my book! And how am I supposed to read it? Hand me my eyeglasses too and be quick about it.”
That’s how it went all afternoon. Kit served him hand and foot and did everything wrong.
When he asked for tea she had to go back and get the sugar. Then he wanted his medicine. Then his newspaper. Then he wanted pen and ink and writing paper with a stamp. It seemed to Kit that for an old man who was supposed to be sick, Uncle Hendrick certainly had plenty of energy for bossing her around and pointing out what she was doing wrong which was everything. She filled the teacup too full and sloshed it into the saucer. She wobbled the spoon when she poured them medicine. She talked too fast and walked too slow. There was no pleasing Uncle Hendrick.
Inky jumped onto Uncle Hendrick’s lap and both of them went to sleep. Kit had to sit perfectly still and wait for them to wake up. She amused herself by thinking of words to describe the pair. They’re both grouchy and grumpy. They’re crabby, cranky, critical, and cross.
When at last Uncle Hendrick woke up he announced that it was time for her to go home.
“Good-bye,” she said, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Humph!” said Uncle Hendrick. He reached into his pocket and pulled out two nickels, “One for the streetcar home and one for the streetcar tomorrow.”
“But – ”
“Take them and go!”
So she did. Kit had an idea to walk home and save the nickels to help Mother with the electric bill. If I save enough money, that will be my Christmas surprise for her.
The thought cheered her as she walked uphill, but by the time Kit got to her house, she was hungry, tired and cold to the bone.
When Kit opened the door to her room, she was surprised to see Ruthie sitting on her bed with a big box on her lap. She looked as if she were struggling to hold a surprise inside and was about to burst.
“Hi,” Kit said wearily.
“Here! This is for you!”Ruthie sat straight up and wiggled impatiently for Kit to open the box.
“Wait till you see! Now everything will be okay!”
Kit lifted the lid and saw inside a bright red dress with a card on top.
Kit looked puzzled, “But this is your dress, Ruthie.”
“It was my dress from last year. But now it doesn’t fit me anymore, so I’m giving it to you.”
Great! Kit thought, now Ruthie thinks of me as a poor, pitiful beggar girl.
“Thanks,” she managed to say politely. She tried very hard to smile.
“Wait! That’s not all!”Ruthie handed her the card.
The card was an invitation to have tea at a fancy restaurant on December 26th after a show at the ballet.
“See?” said Ruthie, all aglow, “My mother bought the tickets, and she’ll pay for the tea. Now we can have our special day. And you won’t have to wear your rickrack dress.”
Slowly, Kit slid the invitation back into the box and closed the lid.
“Thank you, Ruthie,” she said stiffly, “but your dress is probably too big for me and my mother and I are going to be busy on December 26th.” She handed the box back to Ruthie.
“What do you mean?”
“I have a job now,” said Kit, “At my Uncle Hendrick’s house.”
“But you could take the day off – ”
“No. I couldn’t.” Then, seeing Ruthie’s crestfallen face, “Listen, I know you’re just trying to be nice and generous, but don’t you see? I’d be embarrassed to wear your dress. And it’s the same with the tickets and the tea. It would make my mother and me feel like sponges.”
“Sponges?” Ruthie’s voice sounded tight and strained.
“We’d be ashamed to let your mother pay for us.”
“Ashamed!” Ruthie’s face was pink with anger, “I think you should be ashamed of being so selfish. You’re just thinking of yourself! What about me? Did you ever stop to think that maybe you’re ruining my Christmas with your stupid pride? The most fun I ever have is with you. The day you and I spend Christmas together is the very best part of Christmas for me. I thought you liked it too. But you’re too stuck-up and stubborn to accept it. We were just trying to help.”
“I don’t want your help!” Kit said, bristling.
“Oh, I know. You think you’re just like great old Amelia Earhart, flying all by herself without any help from anybody.”
“At least I’m not so babyish that I think I’m a princess like you do,” she said, the words lashing out as mean as snakes. “You’re always talking make-believe. You don’t know anything that’s real. Your father still has a job. You have everything, except you don’t have any idea what the world is really like!”
“Well, now I know what you are really like: Mean!”
“Well, you’re spoiled!”
“Oh!” exclaimed Ruthie as she angrily grabbed her coat and box and went to the door.
“I don’t think we can be friends anymore!”
“Good!” said Kit.
“Good-bye!” said Ruthie closing the door with a bang behind her.
Kit stared at the door for a while. Then she flung herself on her bed and cried.
Oh! How could everything be so horrible? It wasn’t fair! Her family had lost so much since Dad had lost his job and it wasn’t just money. They’d lost their feeling of being safe, their trust that things would work out for the best. They were probably going to lose their home. And now I’ve lost the most important thing of all, thought Kit, my best friend.
Kit knew she couldn’t allow herself to cry for long. She wiped her eyes, blew her nose and headed down to the kitchen to help her mother with the chores.
Mother was already hard at work when Kit came in. She looked up to greet Kit with a smile but then she saw Kit’s face.
“Oh, Kit! Was it that bad at Uncle Hendrick’s? He’s so fussy. And that awful dog too! The way through that dog’s heart is through his stomach, I think I have some cheese rinds for him.”
“Thanks, Mother, but it’s not exactly that. Ruthie and I had a fight.” Kit poured out the whole story to her mother. “It was wrong of me to say no for you too, but I couldn’t help it. I was just so mad. It used to be easy to be friends with Ruthie. It isn’t anymore.
The truth is, I’m jealous of her.”
“And she,” Mother said, “is jealous of you.”
“Of me?” Kit asked, surprised, “but I’m the one who’s lost everything. Why would she be jealous of me?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Mother answered, “I’ve had the impression that Ruthie envies you for having the boarders around, like a big, interesting family. It’s awfully quiet at her house and maybe how your life is more grown-up now. People trust you to do more important things.”
“I’ve never thought of it that way,” sighed Kit, “all I know is that I’m sorry about the fight.”
“Unfortunately the telephone has been turned off for you to call her and apologize, but you’ll see her in school tomorrow. You can tell her then.”
“You think so?” asked Kit hopefully.
“Of course! It is never too late to repair a friendship.”
However, the next day, Kit did not get any opportunity to apologize to Ruthie. When Ruthie had said they couldn’t be friends anymore, she had meant it. She avoided Kit whenever Kit tried to come up to her. And even when Kit left a note on her desk, Ruthie picked it up like a dirty rag and threw it in the garbage without reading it. After three days of this, Kit gave up. School closed for vacation and Kit and Ruthie still hadn’t spoken to each other.
Kit usually loved Christmas vacation because it meant spending more time with her family and with Ruthie, but this year, it only meant spending more time with Uncle Hendrick. Every morning after she had done her chores Kit walked to his house. She had saved quite a pile of nickels since she didn’t use the streetcar. But that was about the only thing good about going to his house.
“Good gracious, you careless child! Don’t use so much string!”Uncle Hendrick fussed at her as Kit tied a bundle of newspapers. “Do you think string grows on trees? I suppose you learned your wasteful ways from your spendthrift parents.” He snorted. “They think that money grows on trees.”
Kit had to stop herself from not retorting back at him.
He never missed a chance to lecture her or be critical about her parents and how they lived. Sometimes Kit thought he was trying to make Kit angry on purpose but Kit could be stubborn too. She determined that she would not give Uncle Hendrick the satisfaction of giving up.
At the end of every day, Uncle Hendrick had her run errands.
“Take these shoes to be shined. Here’s a dime to pay for it. Tell the man that I demand good value for my money. The last time, he left a scuff mark on the toe.”
“Yes, sir” said Kit. Then she trudged along to the shoe-shine shop but when she got there, a terrible sight met her eyes. There was a big sign on the door:
Kit stood there in the bitter cold wondering what to do. One thing was sure. Uncle Hendrick would bite her head off and howl worse than Inky if she brought his shoes back unshined. So Kit took the shoes home. She used her dad’s rags to shine them herself, rubbing until her arm ached. When she got back to Uncle Hendrick’s she braced herself for his persnickety words of criticism.
Uncle Hendrick took the shoes from her.
“There! That’s what I call a job well-done! Let that be a lesson to you, Kit, you only get your money’s worth if you insist upon it.”
Kit hid a smile, “Here’s your dime back. The shop was closed. I shined the shoes.”
“You?” Uncle Hendrick studied her with narrowed eyes, “Then you earned the dime. Keep it.”
“Uncle Hendrick, I’ve been thinking. May I work for you? If I pick up the groceries and deliver your letters and – ”
“Stop!” shouted Uncle Hendrick, “you pester the life out of me! I don’t care who does the work as long as it’s done to my satisfaction. You may keep any money you earn. Understand?”
So whenever Uncle Hendrick had a job for her, she did it. She polished his shoes, delivered his letters, picked up his groceries and washed the windows twice because the first time wasn’t good enough. A couple days before Christmas Kit had collected one dollar and fifty-five cents. She still needed eighty cents more. Any time Kit felt her chores were hard she would say to herself, think how surprised Mother will be when I give her the money I’ve earned. The thought kept her going through the harsh winds and slippery ice.
One especially long afternoon, Uncle Hendrick had fallen asleep reading a book and Kit had nothing to do. She pulled out her green notebook and started to write.
Once upon a time, she began, and then the story seemed to sweep her away. This was different from writing a newspaper article. This story was about a completely different world where Kit could use her imagination to make anything happen. While she wrote, she forgot about being stuck at Uncle Hendrick’s dreary house and her family’s money problems. She disappeared into the world of her story.
When Uncle Hendrick woke up, Kit felt herself snap back into the real world.
She shoved her notebook back into her bookbag and thought, Ruthie was right! Make-believe does make your troubles disappear for a while. Kit’s heart ached that they still weren’t friends and she couldn’t tell her what she thought. Kit wrote more of her story every day and she began to see that her writing seemed to make everything better. When Uncle Hendrick woke up and fussed, instead of having it bother her, she listened carefully in case she wanted to use anything he said in her story. Because Kit had discovered that Ruthie had been right about something else too: there was a wicked ogre in Cincinnati: Uncle Hendrick.
Time passed and soon it was Christmas Eve morning and Kit was cheered as she walked to Uncle Hendrick’s house in the sleet. I bet it will turn to snow tonight! It will be a perfect setting for our Christmas tree that’s going to get lit up! Kit let herself into Uncle Hendrick’s room and right away, Inky attacked her legs.
“Stop that, Inky!” But the dog was restless all day. He barked at the sleet pelting the window and howled every time a tree limb rubbed up against the house.
“Go ahead and howl,” Kit said to him, “Even you can’t ruin this day for me, you horrible dog.”
After a long day, it was time for Kit to go home. She hurried into her coat knowing that is was going to be a difficult and slippery walk home. Kit joyfully headed out the door after saying good-bye. A cruel blast of wind hit her so hard, she stumbled back. She bent her head forward as ice slashed at her cheeks and stung her eyes. Kit took a step forward and her feet flew out from under her and she landed on her back.
She landed so hard on her bottom, she saw stars.
Gingerly, she stood up and clutched the iron railing that fenced Uncle Hendrick’s yard. She inched her way to the sidewalk.
But when the railing ended she had nothing to hold onto.
Kit fell again and this time she cracked her elbow so badly she winced in pain. Kit blinked back tears and knew it was no use.
She had to give up and go back to Uncle Hendrick’s.
“What are you doing here?” He snapped when he saw her.
“It’s to slippery out. May I wait here till the sleet stops?”
Uncle Hendrick peered out the window, “It’s not going to stop anytime soon. You’ll have to stay the night here.”
“Oh no!” wailed Kit. “I can’t. It’s Christmas Eve. I have to get home!”
“Don’t be ridiculous! Stop whining! You’ll have to call your family and tell them you’re staying here.”
“I can’t. Our phone’s not connected anymore.”
“Couldn’t pay the bill I suppose,” Uncle Hendrick said sourly, “Typical! Well, you’ll have to call a neighbor or something.”
The neighbor meant calling Ruthie and Kit’s heart felt very heavy about it. She hoped Mrs. Smithens would answer, but that was not to be. Kit knew exactly who it was as soon as Ruthie said hello.
“Ruthie? It’s me. I know you’re mad at me but don’t hang up. You don’t have to talk to me. I wouldn’t have called but I’m stuck at my Uncle Hendrick’s house. It’s too icy and I can’t get home. I need you to tell my parents I’m spending the night with him. Okay?”
“Okay,” Ruthie’s voice seemed very far away.
“Wait, Ruthie! One more thing. I… I wanted to say I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.”
The line got all crackly and Inky started barking. Kit hung up not knowing if Ruthie had heard her or not.
The room Kit was supposed to sleep in was as cold as a tomb and about as cheery. If we are evicted from our house, and we have to come and live with Uncle Hendrick, will this be my room? I’d rather live in a dungeon.
For endless hours Kit lay stiff and miserable listening to the raging wind and pelting ice. By now her family would be done decorating and know one would know about her surprise. A lump rose in Kit’s throat. Just then she heard scratching at the door. Kit hid her head under the covers but the scratching got louder. When she heard whimpering she tiptoed across the freezing floor and opened the door.
Inky ran across the floor and leaped onto the bed.
Kit climbed back into bed and Inky curled up next to her. This has got to be the worst Christmas Eve ever! No one deserves a Christmas Eve as lonely as this. Not eve Inky. Kit felt so forlorn she was actually glad for horrible old Inky’s smelly, snuffling company. At least he was warm. After a while, Kit finally fell asleep.
It seemed as if no time at all had passed when a jingling sound woke her up. She peered out the window in wonder. The sun was shining making the trees and other houses shine with a dazzling icy light. The jingling sound grew louder and Kit could not believe her eyes.
There in front of her window was Ruthie ringing a jingle bell and smiling.
“Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas! We’ve come to rescue you!”
Kit hurried and got dressed which meant putting on her shoes and sweater since she’d had to sleep in her clothes just as Ruthie burst in.
“Oh Ruthie! I’ve never been so happy to see anyone in my life! Thank you for helping me!”
Ruthie smiled, “That’s what friends are for!”
Kit smiled too. Friends! she thought happily.
Mr. Smithens drove her and Uncle Hendrick who was going to spend Christmas with their family to her house and promised to send Ruthie back to her house for a surprise after dinner.
Kit walked up to her front door which burst open.
“Hurray! Merry Christmas!”
It was one of the merriest Christmases Kit had ever known. Dad surprised her with her typewriter, fixed good as new with a note attached:
Mother surprised Kit too with a little black Scottie dog pin.
“It was given to me when I was your age. I thought you might like it now that Uncle Hendrick is feeling better, you won’t be seeing Inky quite so often,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
But the best surprise by far was Kit’s surprise. Kit waited until she and Mother were alone in the kitchen.
“We’ll eat next to the tree,” Mother said with a small smile, “I’m sure it’ll be as lovely as ever, though I am sorry we can’t have any lights on the tree this year.”
“Oh yes we can!” said Kit happily as she handed Mother her handkerchief full of coins.
“Here’s two dollars and forty cents.” Mother looked at the money in disbelief, “For heaven’s sake! Where did this come from?”
“From Uncle Hendrick. I earned it.”
Mother laughed out loud, “Kit Kittredge, there never was a girl like you! Wait till I tell your father. He’ll be just as proud of you as I am.” Mother gave her a hug, “I hope you are proud of yourself, too.” Kit was.
At dusk, Ruthie and her father came back. Kit went up to Ruthie, “Would you… would you like to go window shopping tomorrow?”
“The little Scottie pin my mother gave me will look really nice on the collar of your red dress,” said Kit, “that is, if you don’t mind I borrow it.”
“I was hoping you’d say that because I have it right here with me!” Ruthie handed it to her, “Go up and change into it and then I have something to give to you.”
Kit came down all dressed up and carrying her notebook.
“Ruthie, I have sort of a present for you too. It isn’t store bought or anything. But I made it for you. Merry Christmas.”
Ruthie took it and read, “The Story of Princess Ruthie. Oh, Kit! Thank you! I know I’ll love it. No one ever wrote a book for me before. And one about a princess too!”
“She’s a generous princess just like you. In fact, she is you. I was thinking of you the whole time I was writing about her.”
“This is kind of funny,” said Ruthie, “Wait till you see the present my mom and I made for you.”
Ruthie handed her a package wrapped in tissue paper. Kit unwrapped it and grinned from ear to ear.
Ruthie had given Kit a doll that looked just like Amelia Earhart, right down to the goggles and gloves she wore!
“Thanks Ruthie! This is the nicest present you could possibly have given me. You’re a good friend.”
“You’re a good friend too! I can’t wait to read my princess story! See you tomorrow!”
“Bye! Merry Christmas!” said Kit.
Kit turned to go back into the living room and gasped. The tree was all lit up. Oh how beautiful. Kit sat in front of the tree with her new doll.
This may be the last Christmas we’ll have in our house, she thought, feeling bittersweet joy, but it’s one I’ll never forget. It may even have been the very best Christmas of all.
Kit and Ruthie played themselves
Uncle Hendrick……………Penny Tonner
Jack (Kit’s dad)…………Katelynne Claire
Margaret (Kit’s mother)…………..Katie Gotz
Kit’s Surprise by Valerie Tripp. Copy right American Girl 2001.