Interested in Language
I am not sure if I understand correctly the text below:
"I remember, in the first moments of astonishment, as I watched it, hearing the Mate shout something to the Skipper about the foresail, then I realised suddenly that the spout was coming straight for the ship. I ran hastily to the taffrail, raised my camera, and snapped it, and then, as it seemed to tower right up above me, gigantic, I ran backwards in sudden fright. In the same instant, there came a blinding flash of lightning, almost in my face, followed instantaneously by a tremendous roar of thunder, and I saw that the thing had burst within about fifty yards of the ship. The sea, immediately beneath where it had been, leapt up in a great hummock of solid water, and foam, as though something as great as a house had been cast into the ocean. Then, rushing towards us, it struck the stern of the vessel, flying as high as our topsail yards in spray, and knocking me backwards on to the deck."
W.H.Hodgson, Through The Vortex Of A Cyclone, 1907
What I do not understand properly is what had burst within about fifty yards of the ship; if it was the lightning or or the spout. I have read it several times but I am still out of my depths ...
Thank you for help.
The (water)spout. Lightning could not have had the effect described.