Meanwhile the princess was eagerly waiting till her deliverer should come back; and had a road made leading up to her palace all of shining gold; and told her courtiers that whoever came on horseback, and rode straight up to the gate upon it, was her true lover; and that they must let him in: but whoever rode on
one side of it, they must be sure was not the right one; and that they must send him away at once.
The times were changed, however, and the forest tracks wound away from them deserted and silent, with no trample of war-horse or clang of armor which might herald the approach of an adversary--so that Sir Nigel rode on
his way disconsolate.
But the brothers rode on
so fast that dust and sparks flew all around, and they reached the gate of the town a good hour before Blockhead-Hans.
The Abbot thanked his sage adviser; and the cavalcade, setting spurs to their horses, rode on
as men do who wish to reach their inn before the bursting of a night-storm.
And as he watched, so did he listen, though he rode on
in silence, save for the boom of heavy guns from far to the west.