Day 203: St Mars’ Day

 The facts

“I’ve a good mind to put a stop to Valentine’s Day myself,” said William.
“How could you?” demanded Douglas after a slight silence.
“I’ve not thought about it yet,” said William, “but I bet I jolly well could, once I began thinkin’ about it.”
“Well, go on. Begin thinkin’ about it,” challenged Ginger.

  • Number: 18.7
  • Published: 1936 (same year in magazine form)
  • Book: Sweet William
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws establish an alternative Valentine’s Day.


Finding the array of angels, hearts and arrows adorning the village’s shops too “sick’nin’” for words, the Outlaws decide to come up with their own version of Valentine’s Day, honouring “Saint Mars”, who Henry assures his friends is the patron saint of war.

“Those who haven’t got masks can have black handkerchiefs tied over their eyes,” said William.
“All my handkerchiefs are white,” said Ginger, taking one out of his pocket.
“Well, you can black one, can’t you?” said William
impatiently. “What’s ink for?”

The first St Mars’ Day tradition the boys come up with is the sending of threatening cards (skulls-and-crossbones superimposed with “BEWEAR” in red ink) to one’s enemies – chiefly Hubert Lane, headmaster Ole Markie and the Vicar’s wife.

Hubert Lane is their archnemesis, so he comes in for the most brutal treatment: the storming of his Valentine’s Day party.

But it doesn’t go as planned…