Jon sat under the trees and ate his biscuit and cheese while his mare grazed along the kingsroad. He kept the apple for last. It had gone a little soft, but the flesh was still tart and juicy. He was down to the core when he heard the sounds: horses, and from the north. Quickly Jon leapt up and strode to his mare. Could he outrun them? No, they were too close, they'd hear him for a certainty, and if they were from Castle Black...
He led the mare off the road, behind a thick stand of grey-green sentinels. "Ouiet now," he said in a hushed voice, crouching down to peer through the branches. If the gods were kind, the riders would pass by. Likely as not, they were only smallfolk from Mole's Town, farmers on their way to their fields, although what they were doing out in the middle of the night...
He listened to the sound of hooves growing steadily louder as they trotted briskly down the kingsroad. From the sound, there were five or six of them at the least. Their voices drifted through the trees.
... certain he came this way?
We can't be certain.
He could have ridden east, for all you know. Or left the road to cut through the woods. That's what I'd do.
In the dark? Stupid. If you didn't fall off your horse and break your neck, you'd get lost and wind up back at the Wall when the sun came up.