The provoking part was that Lily knew all this—knew how easy it would have been to silence him on the spot, and how difficult it might be to do so afterward.
The contrast was too grotesque: she could scarcely suppress the smile it provoked.
It was part of the game to make him feel that her appeal had been an uncalculated impulse, provoked by the liking he inspired; and the renewed sense of power in handling men, while it consoled her wounded vanity, helped also to obscure the thought of the claim at which his manner hinted.
Of course it was shocking for a married woman to borrow money—and Lily was expertly aware of the implication involved—but still, it was the mere MALUM PROHIBITUM which the world decries but condones, and which, though it may be punished by private vengeance, does not provoke the collective disapprobation of society.
To do so might be to provoke a scene; and a scene, in the shaken state of Mrs. Peniston’s nerves, with the effects of her dinner not worn off, and her mind still tremulous with new impressions, was a risk she deemed it her duty to avoid.
The invitation was one which, a year earlier, would have provoked a less ready response, for the party, though organized by Mrs. Fisher, was ostensibly given by a lady of obscure origin and indomitable social ambitions, whose acquaintance Lily had hitherto avoided.
The idea that any rash answer might provoke an unpleasant outburst tempered her disgust with caution, and she answered with a laugh: "I don’t see how one can very well take country drives in town, but I am not always surrounded by an admiring throng, and if you will let me know what afternoon you are coming I will arrange things so that we can have a nice quiet talk."
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Show samples from other sources
Her remarks provoked a public outcry.
We should not permit deeply offensive words to provoke violence.