“I must do it. My honor is at stake,” said Anne solemnly. “I shall walk that ridgepole, Diana, or perish in the attempt. If I am killed you are to have my pearl bead ring.”
Anne climbed the ladder amid breathless silence, gained the ridge pole, balanced herself uprightly on that precarious footing, and started to walk along it, dizzily conscious that she was uncomfortably high up in the world and that walking ridgepoles was not a thing in which your imagination helped you out much. Nevertheless, she managed to take several steps before the catastrophe came. Then she swayed, lost her balance, stumbled, staggered and fell, sliding down over the sun-baked roof and crashing off it through the tangle of Virginia creeper beneath – all before the dismayed circle below could give a simultaneous, terrified shriek.
If Anne had tumbled off the roof on the side up which she ascended Diana would probably have fallen heir to the pearl bead ring then and there. Fortunately she fell on the other side, where the roof extended down over the porch so nearly to the ground that a fall therefrom was a much less serious thing. Nevertheless, when Diana and the other girls had rushed frantically around the house they found Anne lying all white and limp among the wreck and ruin of the Virginia creeper.
“Anne, are you killed?” shrieked Diana, throwing herself on her knees beside her friend. “Oh, Anne, dear Anne, speak just one word to me and tell me if you’re killed.”
“No, Diana, I am not killed, but I think I am rendered unconscious.”
“Where?” sobbed Carrie Sloane. “Oh, where, Anne?”
Before Anne could answer Mrs. Barry appeared on the scene. At sight of her Anne tried to scramble to her feet, but sank back again with a sharp little cry of pain
“What’s the matter? Where have you hurt yourself?” demanded Mrs. Barry.
“My ankle,” gasped Anne. “Oh, Diana, please find your father and ask him to take me home. I know I can never walk there.”
Marilla was out in the orchard picking a panful of summer apples when she saw Mr. Barry coming over the log bridge and up the slope, with Mrs. Barry beside him and a whole procession of little girls trailing after him. In his arms he carried Anne whose head lay limply against his shoulder.
“Mr. Barry, what has happened to her?” she gasped, more white and shaken than the self-contained, sensible Marilla had been for many years.
Anne herself answered, lifting her head.
“Don’t be very frightened, Marilla. I was walking the ridgepole, and I fell off. I expect I have sprained my ankle. But, Marilla, I might have broken my neck. Let us look on the bright side of things.”
L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables