Eruera had been in hospital last Guy Fawkes day, and the one before that he couldn't remember. Now everybody was getting ready for the day again, and he didn't know how to start. In the middle of the football field the master and the big boys had built a huge pile of rubbish and branches from the pine trees that had just been cut down. Then the master told them that they could make some guys at home and bring them to school. The best guys would be tied to a long dry branch that already stuck right up through the middle of the rubbish pile, waiting.
Eruera and Isaac squatted in the long grass and watched Victor and John and Rewa making a guy in Victor's backyard. Victor and John and Rewa were the biggest boys in the school. They always did things together, and they didn't talk much. They were Scouts. Their guy was going to be a good one. Anyone could see that. Eruera wished he was old enough to be a Scout. Being a Scout must make you strong and quiet, and kind to the little fellows, and good at making things like guys.
Eruera and Isaac heard Paul yelling from the road. ‘Hey, you fellas! Coming down to Muriwai's? They got a guy. Better'n theirs!’
Nino bobbed out of a hole in a hedge, as they passed his house.
‘I'm gonna be a Scout soon’, said Eruera.
‘Not’, said Paul, ‘Scouts don't have little legs.’
‘My father caught three thousand flounders last night,’ said Isaac.
‘Not’, said Nino. ‘Bet there aren't that many in the whole sea. Ask Miss James.’
The Muriwai's was a splendid guy. He had two heads, because the Muriwai twins had made that part of him. He wore very long gumboots, because Mr Muriwai was a fisherman. He was very big, and rather untidy, because there were a lot of Muriwais. But he was a happy-looking guy, and under one arm he had an old ukelele. Because the Muriwai's were like that too.
‘Come on’, said Eruera, ‘we go and make one, eh?’
In the shed behind Eruera's house they found an old coat hanging on a rail.
‘Gee, eh? Now some paints. We'll ask Aunty Mabel’, said Eruera. Aunty Mabel was scraping flax on her back door-step when the boys arrived. Aunty Mabel's boys were all grown up, and she found a pair of Jackson's shearing pants for them.
‘I don't know what Jackson say when he come home. You run now.’
They ran, Eruera hopping along as fast as he could with the shearing pants on his head, and the legs flapping out behind him.
On Guy Fawkes day Rewa wheeled Eruera's guy to school in Aunty Mabel's wheelbarrow. Eruera hopped and ran beside him. He wasn't the best guy, but he had Jackson's trousers, and Daddy's hat, and Nana's old coat, and a sad face that his mother had sewn with wool on an old black jersey, and Eruera loved him.
‘That's a fine guy, Eru’, said the master, ‘but where are all the others?’
‘Please sir, no more’, said the biggest girl Muriwai. ‘John and Victor didn't finish. They went camping with the Scouts.’ She giggled, ‘Our baby burnt our's up.’
Everybody crowded around to watch Eruera's guy being tied to the pole on the bonfire. At playtime and lunchtime Eruera sat beside the rubbish and talked to his guy.
When it was nearly dark, Eruera, Nino, Paul and Isaac walked down the road to the football field. Already crackers were banging, and rockets and jumping jacks smoking and fizzing.
‘Please sir, now sir, the guy?’ Eruera shouted to the master as soon as he appeared. He lit some paper tucked into the edge of the rubbish pile, and up went the flames. Back went everyone as the fire grew hotter. There were sighs and chuckles of satisfaction.
Eruera watched his guy. His poor sad face slipped into his chest as the flames ran up his trousers. Eruera hid behind Miss James, and pushed his face into her skirt.
‘My guy! My guy!’ he sobbed. ‘You shouldn' hurt him.’
Ans Westra Photo
This picture shows a meeting of the Ringatu Church at Wainui, near Ohope Beach. On the wall of the meeting-house is one of the flags used by Te Kooti; this is now kept in the Dominion Museum in Wellington, but it was lent for the occasion by the museum. Te Kooti had a number of flags; this one was taken at Te Porere, the scene of Te Kooti's last stand, on the upper Wanganui River on the slopes of Tongariro. The symbols on the flag can be interpreted in a number of ways. Some say that the crescent moon symbolises the Old Testament, and the cross, the New Testament.