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The master at arms had released the British prisoners there because he supposed that the Richard was about to sink. To make matters more desperate a fire had been started by the guns of the Serapis and the magazine was in great But Jones ordered some peril. of the prisoners to the pumps, told others to throw water from the hold on the flames, and when one of them had been killed for refusing the others obeyed. In the meantime, before going to the hold, Jones had ordered Lieut. John May rant to prepare to lead boarders to the deck of the Serapis.
With one glance Jones saw the situation and shouted to Mayrant: ''Now is your time, John. '^ was won Seeing the Americans in at last. own possession of his deck, Captain Pearson with his full hands hauled down his flag. In one respect the victory was unique in the history of the sea. The Richard had been so badly injured that she sank in spite of every effort to save her; yet she captured the ship that destroyed her. There were but four really memorable battles afloat during the period of the Revolution, and in three of these the American ships were destroyed.
Twenty-five minutes from the moment when the ketch ar- rived Decatur returned to her, leaving the frigate beyond hope. His crew had all doomed escaped injury of every kind so far, but now new dangers surrounded them. The flames might at any moment reach the magazine and hurl the Philadelphia in fragments upon them, while every gun within range was now aimed at them by the they had kindled. The enemy's shot splashed water over them as if it were spray from a growing surf while they bent to their oars, and as time passed even the guns of the Philadelphia, heated by the fire, began to throw shot at them.