John Boy needs a job to earn a bit of money, but at the same time it must allow him the freedom to attend his classes at college. Reading to a blind girl seems like just the job for him. Ruth, the young blind woman, has become blind only fairly recently and she makes it very difficult for John Boy to get to know her. No matter what he suggests to help her to break out of her shell, she rejects his offers of friendship. The last straw comes though, when John Boy gives her a small gift which Mary Ellen has spent time deciding upon, and Ruth becomes hostile, seeing this gift as an act of pity. John Boy loses his temper and gives her a piece of his mind, and she begins to realise just what she is doing to herself and those around her who care about her.
She arrives on Waltons Mountain to apologise to John Boy and to take the first steps towards going out and is invited to their picnic. During their picnic, Elizabeth walks along the railing of the bridge over the pond and falls, and Ruth tries to save her.