Beneath the Mask
“He’s in here,” Huchimitl said.
I stood in the courtyard of her opulent house, amidst pine and palm trees, breathing in the smell of dust and fallen pine needles. Just outside, a few paces from me, was Coyocan, one of the busiest suburbs of Tenochtitlan; but the bustle from the crowded streets and canals was barely audible, cut off by the walls of the courtyard. Around us were several doorways, closed by coloured entrance-curtains; and it was before one of those that Huchimitl and I stood.
Not for the first time, I wished Huchimitl wasn’t wearing that accursed ceramic mask—so I could read her face. Or, failing that, that she’d at least tell me why she was wearing it. The only people in the city I’d seen wearing that kind of mask were disfigured warriors. But I’d asked the question twice on my way there, and been met with silence.