She manifested even tenderness for him, expressed her strong liking for America, and Alfonso believed that Christine was truly fond of him. No arguments or persuasions could have convinced him otherwise. The contrary wishes of his own family, the eloquence of a Webster, winds from the poles, all combined, could not have cooled his ardor. Alfonso had firmly resolved to wed Christine, come what would.
He had often dreamed of her smiles, her pretty blue eyes, and her fleecy hair floating in the breezes of the Zuider Zee. He had also dreamed of a brilliant wedding in Holland, of a large reception at Harrisville, and had even heard the plaudits of his fellow artists in New York, as they lauded his master piece “Admiral De Ruyter’s Great Naval Victory.”
Fortified with these proofs of Christine’s devotion, he sought the company of his blond sweetheart on a balcony that overlooked the moon-lit harbor of Amsterdam.
Here Alfonso offered his hand and heart—to a coquette—who rejected him. He was astonished, almost stunned. Recovering from his dazed condition, she again chilled his heart by the utterance, “You have not learned in this practical world of ours that gold marries gold; that society plays for equivalents. You once admitted to me that your father wanted you at the head of his large business, and disapproved of your choice of a profession. As an artist you seek fame. How can you divide it with me? In asking my hand you seek to divide my gold, thus securing both fame and gold. Alfonso we have enjoyed each other’s company as friends.”
“Yes, Christine, though you have been cruel we can separate as friends. Sometime I may be able to match gold with gold. Till then, adieu.”
Saying this Alfonso left the De Ruyter mansion all the more resolved, however, to win Christine. For a moment her deceptive heart rebuked her as she watched Alfonso’s departure. In the papers of the following evening an announcement frightened Christine. The head lines read: “Mr. Alfonso Harris, a young American artist, drowned this morning in the harbor.”
Later the police brought to the De Ruyter home detailed news. Christine gave instructions to use every possible effort to recover Alfonso’s body, and at once sent her servant with a telegram for Colonel Reuben Harris, Grand Hotel, Paris, the only address she knew.
The next day, with her mother, she accompanied the police to Alfonso’s room, where she gathered up several of her love letters. A new suit of clothes hung in the closet, a package of returned laundry lay on the table, also pen, ink and paper. Evidently Alfonso expected to return soon to the hotel. His clothes, watch, and money had been found in the boat that drifted ashore.
Christine concluded that Alfonso had gone for a boat-ride and swim, as was his custom; very likely this time to free his mind, if possible, from recent trouble, and was seized with cramp and drowned before aid could reach him. Vigorous search in the harbor and along the shore instituted by the police department and the American consul failed to locate his body or to furnish further facts to Christine as to the cause of the accident.