were not agile enough to dodge the onslaught, reducing bulkheads, stanchions, deck-beams to kindling wood; but they were captured after a long conflict and before they could batter the oaken sides out of the ship.
There was a glimpse of hope in the early morning when the Ville de Paris was sighted two miles to windward. The storm had subsided, a sort of breathing-spell between the outbreaks of terrific weather. The stately three-decker of a Frenchman lifted all her masts against the foaming sky-line and was even setting a topsail. Plunging her long rows of painted gun-ports under, she climbed buoyantly to meet the next gray-backed comber, while the copper glinted almost to her keel as she wildly rolled and staggered. This captured flag-ship in which De Grasse, fresh from the triumph of Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown, had confidently expected to crush Rodney and so sweep the seas of the New World for France, seemed to have been vouchsafed some peculiar respite by the god of storms. To those who beheld her from the drowning Centaur the impression conveyed was the same as that reported by Admiral Graves, that she had miraculously come through unhurt, the only ship of this great fleet whose lofty spars still stood.
Captain Inglefield began firing guns in token of