Having come to this decision he drew some of the hay over his body and in spite of cold and wet was soon peacefully asleep. But at early dawn he awoke with the alacrity of a man who constantly expects pursuit, and slipped down from the hayloft into the barn. There was no one stirring and he got over the fence at the back of the yard and skirted the fields in the direction of the church, finally climbing another stile and entering what he supposed to be the park. On this side the back of the church ran out into a broad meadow, where the larger portion of the ancient abbey had once stood. Goddard walked along close by the church walls. He knew from his observation on the previous afternoon that he could thus come out into the road in the vicinity of the cottage, unless his way through the park were interrupted by impassable wire fences. The ground was very heavy and he was sure not to meet anybody in the meadows in such weather.
Suddenly he stopped and looked at a buttress that jutted out from the church and for the existence of which there seemed to be no ostensible reason. He examined it and found that it was not a buttress but apparently a half ruined chamber, which at some former period had been built upon the side of the abbey. Low down by the ground there was a hole, where a few stones seemed to have been removed and not replaced. Goddard knelt down in the long wet grass and put in his head; then he crept in on his hands and knees and presently disappeared.
He found himself in a room about ten feet square, dimly lighted by a small window at the top, and surrounded by long horizontal niches. The floor, which was badly broken in some places, was of stone. Goddard examined the place carefully. It was evidently an old vault of the kind formerly built above ground for the lords of the manor; but the coffins, if there had ever been any, had been removed elsewhere. Goddard laughed to himself.
“I might stay here for a year, if I could get anything to eat,” he said to himself.