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'Politics and the Mayfly' - Fiction
Published in Chambers' Journal 13 (645) 301-4 May1896
Subsequent Short Story Collection: Grey Weather (1899)


It is only at the end of this early short story that Buchan deftly reveals it as a piscatorial version of the Faust legend. Up to that point all is light, wry and full of delicate humour. The farmer of Clachlands is a traditional Tory and his ploughman an ardent radical. At parliamentary elections the farmer seeks to influence the votes of his labourers and the ploughman to rally voters to the rival cause. On a particular election day the farmer bribes the ploughman to stay away from the polling station by making available an opportunity for perfect fishing, and leaving all to the ploughman's free will. The temptation, beautifully described by an expert, is too great. The joy of fishing outweighs the fleeting interest of politics. Only too late does the now desperate ploughman realise how he has been gulled into a fall from grace.

Isobel M Haslett April 2001

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