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Martyr Available, Inquire Within

Martyr Available, Inquire Within
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grade 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.33

     challenging words:    avocation, consternation, countenance, extricate, facade, familiarize, gauche, half-expected, hermit-martyr, inaccessible, inexcusable, martyrdom, prerogative, sparsely-furnished, unspeakable, volition
     content words:    Augustus Glance, Martyr Available, Inquire Within, High Lord Faustus

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Martyr Available, Inquire Within
By Brenda B. Covert

1     Augustus Glance stood for some time at the stone facade, staring in astonishment at the sign on the rough-hewn door. Ambling along the cobblestone streets, he had been attempting to familiarize himself with this strange town to which his travels had drawn him, when suddenly that sign stopped him. Such an oddity Augustus had never seen! Why would one advertise oneself as a martyr? Surely the word's connotation hinted at frightening torture and unspeakable death. It conjured up thoughts of the Coliseum, where they fed hapless victims to the lions for the amusement of the emperor and a horde of bloodthirsty Romans.
2     Martyr Available, Inquire Within. Was this an occupation, or merely an avocation? Augustus pondered these things as he stood outside the door in protracted silence.
3     He felt a sudden movement at his side. Looking down, Augustus was immediately alarmed. His arm was rising of its own volition! His hand became a fist as he watched. He trembled at the thought of the secrets hidden beyond that door. This was not an establishment that he would choose to patronize. Yet, the sequence continued. His knuckles rapped soundly on the door, almost demandingly. However, any pain Augustus might have felt was obliterated by his fear of the unknown.
4     The heavy door was pushed open to reveal a hairy, stooped man. His appearance struck Augustus as zany. Would a hermit put a sign on his door? Didn't they normally live in isolated mountains, away from humanity?
5     This unexpected encounter brought a query to Augustus' lips that he quickly squelched as he noticed the large bowl in the man's hands. "I'm sorry," Augustus stammered. "I fear I have disrupted your daily ablutions."
6     "What is life, if not one long series of disruptions?" the hairy man responded. "Come in." If he smiled, it was concealed beneath the facial hair. Nevertheless, his clear gray eyes had kindness in them.
7     "I would not choose to inconvenience you," Augustus responded politely. "I can return later." In truth, he had half-expected the martyr of the sign to be inaccessible. To knock merely for curiosity's sake was an inexcusable blunder. What an ordeal this was becoming! How could he extricate himself from this predicament without being forced to divulge his lack of purpose? What mental gymnastics would it take to improvise an acceptable escape?
8     "You are my guest," the hermit-martyr person said firmly, stepping aside to allow Augustus to enter.

Paragraphs 9 to 21:
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