“The Wing-And-Wing” is a novel by James Fenimore Cooper. It is a sea fiction story.
The story is set in the very late 1700’s in Portoferrario, Elba, near Tuscany. It begins with a mysterious lugger approaching the shore, causing concern among the city’s residents because of French invasions. Among the people who gather to watch the lugger sail nearer to land are Tommaso Tonti, an experienced mariner; Vito Viti, the magistrate of the city; and Ghita, an eighteen-year-old girl who was left in Portoferrario by her uncle, she also seems to express much concern over the lugger.
Once the lugger arrives on shore, the captain emerges, and Vito Viti takes him to Andrea Barrofaldi, the governor of Elba. The captain apparently pretends to be in service to England, and gives the name of his lugger as “Wing-and-Wing”, as well as his own name as “Captain Jack Smith”. The governor nor the magistrate fully believe the captains story, however, as they acknowledge the English have never used luggers to travel on the seas, only the French and Spanish. After the captain laves, with an invitation to dinner with Barrofaldi later on, he meets with Ghita, whom he knows. The captain’s real name is then revealed to Raoul Yvard, and he has come there to see Ghita, his fiancée. But she does not like the fact that he is a deist. Fearing they’ll be seen together, they both leave, but plan to meet again.
In the meantime, the governor and magistrate’s suspicions remain about “Captain Smith” and the Wing-and-Wing, so they visit a lady named Benedetta’s tavern to discuss the issue with Tommaso. Soon their conversation is interrupted when two people, Ithuel Bolt from the Wing-and-Wing and a Genoese interpreter, enter the establishment. As the five of them converse with each other, Ithuel tells them how he, being from a state in America, was captured by the British and has since then hated anything having to do with Great Britain. When Ithuel is asked why he still serves England, when he has no difficulty in escaping, he replies that there are English all across the seas and he could easily be caught. In reality, however, he was captured by the British along with Yvard, and they both escaped in the French frigate Feu-Follet, which was being disguised as Wing-and-Wing. A short while late, an English frigate under the name of Proserpine arrives in Elba. Yvard has secret fear because of this, and convinces Vito Viti that the frigate might be French disguised as British, so he tries to drive the ship away. Later on that evening, Yvard and Ghita meet again and she asks him if he would transport her and her uncle to someplace else. He agrees to do so. In the meantime, Lieutenant Edward Griffin of the Proserpine enters Elba and convinces the authorities of Captain Smith and Wing-and-Wing’s real identities. With the governor now aware of the Feu-Follet, the Proserpine makes a full attempt to capture the Feu-Follet, but the crew’s signals are disrupted by Ithuel, who sets off rockets, thus allowing the lugger to escape. This starts a hot pursuit by the Proserpine, trying various schemes including the trickery of vessel flags, but when Yvard realizes they are the English, he kills several of them on board. The Proserpine crew even attempts to ignite a fire, hoping it would pass to Feu-Follet. So sure of this plan, they are stumped the next day after realizing that the Feu-Follet had passed Portoferrario earlier that morning.
The Feu-Follet soon lands in Naples, where Ghita’s grandfather, Admiral Francesco Caraccioli, is to be tried for treason. Despite Ghita’s pleas, Lord Nelson refuses to pardon Caraccioli, but she is able to see him one more time before he is executed. Ghita and her uncle are taken back to the Feu-Follet by both Ithuel and Yvard and they set sail again. Soon Yvard and Ithuel are approached by the Proserpine and are taken onto the ship. Vito and Barrofaldi recognize Yvard, and Ithuel is recognized as being a deserter of the Proserpine, so they are both tried soon for their crimes. Yvard is found guilty of being a French spy, and is to be executed the next day; however, after conversing with the Proserpine’s captain and officers, they begin to feel pity for him, and decide to send a messenger to Lord Nelson to revoke Yvard’s punishment. Afterwards, Barrofaldi and Vito Viti pay a visit to Yvard, and get into a heated argument. While the Proserpine’s officers are distracted by this argument, Ithuel emerges to take Yvard and they escape in the Feu-Follet’s yawl. Soon afterwards, the yawl arrives near St. Agata, where Ghita and her uncle leave the ship to visit a relative of theirs. Yvard once again asked Ghita to marry him, however even though she wants to accept she cannot because of their religious differences. After Yvard and Ithuel leave St. Agata on the yawl, they are taken back on board by the Feu-Follet’s crew. They then meet with the messenger who helped prevent Yvard from being executed. They capture him, thank him for his service, and release him afterwards.
Wanting to see Ghita again, Yvard decides to turn the Feu-Follet around and sail forward telling the rest of the crew that they will capture a British ship. Soon the4y actually come into conflict with the British, resulting in significant bloodshed. The Feu-Follet is sunk along with the remaining crew on it, and Yvard is seriously wounded. Ghita and her uncle ride out to the wreckage on a boat after the bloody battle, and are able to stay with Yvard during his last few hours of life.
I enjoyed this story because it was adventurous and suspenseful. One of my favorites scenes was when Ithuel was in the tavern criticizing the British people and their customs. I would recommend this story to anyone that enjoys sea novels or James Fenimore Cooper’s works.