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She had practically, he believed, conveyed the intimation, the horrid, brutal, vulgar menace, in the course of their last dreadful conversation, when, for whatever was left him of pluck or confidence – confidence in what he would fain have called a little more aggressively the strength of his position – he had judged best not to take it up. But this time there was no question of not understanding, or of pretending he didn’t; the ugly, the awful words, ruthlessly formed by her lips, were like the fingers of a hand that she might have thrust into her pocket for extraction of the monstrous object that would serve best for – what should he call it? – a gage of battle.
“If I haven’t a very different answer from you within the next three days I shall put the matter into the hands of my solicitor, whom it may interest you to know I’ve already seen. I shall bring an action for ‘breach’ against you, Herbert Dodd, as sure as my name’s Kate Cookham.”
There it was, straight and strong – yet he felt he could say for himself, when once it had come, or even, already just as it was coming, that it turned on, as if she had moved an electric switch, the very brightest light of his own very reasons. There she was, in all the grossness of her native indelicacy, in all her essential excess of will and destitution of scruple; and it was the woman capable of that ignoble threat who, his sharper sense of her quality having become so quite deterrent, was now making for him a crime of it that he shouldn’t wish to tie himself to her for life.

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