While living in Etten in 1881, Vincent fell in love with his cousin, Cornelia Vos-Stricker (known as Kee). Kee had been recently widowed and wasn't interested in Vincent's feelings for her. Vincent was persistent, but this only served to upset Kee along with both sides of their families. In response to Vincent's pledge of love, Kee responded with the unequivocal "No, no, never." These words would haunt Vincent for the rest of his life.
This unhappy situation reaches a climax in the autumn of 1881 when Vincent confronts Kee's father in Amsterdam. In order to prove his love for Kee, Vincent holds his hand over the flame of an oil lamp. Fortunately Vincent's hand is unhurt, but after this incident he is eventually forced to accept Kee's decision.