Midsummer Fair




Short story


Young adult

Historical era



Margaret Lyford-Pike


BBC Radio Scotland – ?


We Lived in Drumfyvie


The Red Sheriff (Duncan the Red)


The Man Who Liked a Peaceful Life

"Midsummer Fair" is the third story in the collection We Lived in Drumfyvie, originally co-written with producer Margaret Lyford-Pike as episodes of an unidentified children's radioplay series. It features the children of a character from the first two stories of the book, "Duncan the Red" and "The Red Sheriff".


Wattie the potboy of The Fighting Cocks tavern, Drumfyvie, narrates the tale of a particularly memorable Midsummer Fair of his youth. On the first Fair Day, the sheriff Sir Robert Maitland and his children Richard and Margaret peruse the booth of Thorkel Thorkelsson, a Norwegian fur trader, where Margaret begs for a polar bear skin as a birthday present, but her father and nurse deem it too extravagant.

On the second night of the Fair, Thorkel becomes garrulous in The Fighting Cocks, and Richard Maitland sneaks out of the Castle to listen to his travellers' tales. Annoyed at the burgesses' skepticism of his stories of hunting ghost bears and wrestling Troll women, Thorkel starts a fight with a dancing bear, who is also drunk. Margaret Maitland arrives to drag her brother away before their father's men-at-arms arrive, and Wattie hustles them out the back door, adjuring Richard to remember that he owes his sister a favour.

The next day, Thorkel is sentenced to sit in the stocks in the middle of the market. Richard arrives and enlists Wattie in moving Thorkel's goods to be sold from the stocks. The townspeople admit there is no law against it, and Thorkel and Richard do a booming business. At the end of the day, Sir Robert arrives to collect his enterprising son, who cheekily persuades his father to buy the bearskin for Margaret.


A.D. 1160 is given in the chapter heading. The Midsummer Fair takes place over the course of three days, and Wattie places the story near the beginning of his twenty-year career as a potboy.


  • Wattie, career potboy at The Fighting Cocks tavern
  • The Provost
  • Sir Robert Maitland, second sheriff of Drumfyvie
  • Richard Maitland, Sir Robert's youngest son
  • Margaret Maitland, Sir Robert's thirteen-year-old daughter
  • Old Nurse, a tyrant
  • Thorkel Thorkelsson, a Norway fur merchant, TFC patron
  • Tam, dancing bear impresario, TFC patron
  • A bear, dancer and drinker, TFC patron
  • Jamie the Town Herd, TFC patron
  • Willie the Smith, TFC patron
  • Duncan the Saddler, TFC patron
  • Sandy the Weaver, TFC patron
  • Davey the Fletcher's son
  • Alan from the Mill


  • Drumfyvie
    • Fighting Cocks Lane
      • The Fighting Cocks tavern
    • Market Cross
      • the tolbooth
      • the stocks
    • Castle Port
    • East Port
    • The Castle
    • The Mill