The Valley of Fear

scene 6 what is the meaning of deaths severe a cruel punishment for betrayal by Watson

Watson,macdonald and holmes arguing with each other

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It means that death is a very severe punishment for betraying,

expose (one's country, a group, or a person) to danger by treacherously giving information to an enemy

In scene 6 Watson says this line when he hears the case. If someone betrays you, you go talk to him, give him a warning or you finish the relationship between you and that person. But we do not murder or kill someone just because he betrayed us.