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17. CHAPTER XVII. (continued)
"Well, that may be so, and it mayn't. Now, all ready. Step forward, George Jackson. And mind, don't you hurry - come mighty slow. If there's anybody with you, let him keep back - if he shows himself he'll be shot. Come along now. Come slow; push the door open yourself - just enough to squeeze in, d' you hear?"
I didn't hurry; I couldn't if I'd a wanted to. I took one slow step at a time and there warn't a sound, only I thought I could hear my heart. The dogs were as still as the humans, but they followed a little behind me. When I got to the three log doorsteps I heard them unlocking and unbarring and unbolting. I put my hand on the door and pushed it a little and a little more till somebody said, "There, that's enough - put your head in." I done it, but I judged they would take it off.
The candle was on the floor, and there they all was, looking at me, and me at them, for about a quarter of a minute: Three big men with guns pointed at me, which made me wince, I tell you; the oldest, gray and about sixty, the other two thirty or more - all of them fine and handsome - and the sweetest old gray-headed lady, and back of her two young women which I couldn't see right well. The old gentleman says:
"There; I reckon it's all right. Come in."
As soon as I was in the old gentleman he locked the door and barred it and bolted it, and told the young men to come in with their guns, and they all went in a big parlor that had a new rag carpet on the floor, and got together in a corner that was out of the range of the front windows - there warn't none on the side. They held the candle, and took a good look at me, and all said, "Why, HE ain't a Shepherdson - no, there ain't any Shepherdson about him." Then the old man said he hoped I wouldn't mind being searched for arms, because he didn't mean no harm by it - it was only to make sure. So he didn't pry into my pockets, but only felt outside with his hands, and said it was all right. He told me to make myself easy and at home, and tell all about myself; but the old lady says:
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