It little mattered whether my curiosity irritated him; I knew the pleasure of vexing and soothing him by turns; it was one I chiefly delighted in, and a sure instinct always prevented me from going too far; beyond the verge of provocation I never ventured; on the extreme brink I liked well to try my skill.
There are no more uses of "provocation" in the book.
Show samples from other sources
Police are expected to hold their temper regardless of the degree of verbal provocation.
the result was a provocation of vigorous investigation