Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/169

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1800, for the Cape Verd Islands, to take on a cargo of salt and hides and then to complete the homeward voyage to New York. The Oswego was a fast and able vessel of 260 tons, absurdly small to modern eyes, and carried thirteen sailors, including boys. After passing Cape Finisterre, Captain Paddock began to distrust his reckoning because of much thick weather, but felt no serious concern until the ship was fairly in the surf, which pounded and hammered her hull with one tremendous blow after another.

Daylight disclosed what the old sea-songs called "the high coast of Barbary" no more than a few hundred yards distant. The Oswego was beating out her life among the rocks, and it was time to leave her. The boats were smashed in trying to land, and the only refuge was this cruel and ominous shore, the barren wastes of sand and mountain, the glaring sun, the evil nomads.

With a few bottles of water and such food as they could pack on their backs, these pilgrims set out to trudge along the coast in the direction of Mogador, where they hoped to find the protection of an English consul. It was not an auspicious omen when they discovered a group of roofless huts rudely built of stone, a heap of human bones, and the broken timbers of a large frigate washed up by the tide.