The Disappearing Debutante
By Lisa Karon Richardson
On December 12, 1910 a wealthy and fashionable young woman from New York’s Diamond set, went out for a walk and to do some shopping. She never returned.
Her name was Dorothy Arnold, and on paper at least she had everything to live for. She was a Bryn Mawr graduate and an aspiring writer. The last place she was seen was a bookstore where she mentioned her intention of walking home through Central Park.
At first her family tried to keep the disappearance on the down low. They weren’t too concerned for her safety because just a month before, Dorothy had eloped and spent a week with a young man named George Griscom, Jr.
But Griscom turned out to be in Italy.
As her absence became more worrisome her family engaged the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency and got the police involved as well. Her story became the proverbial media circus. Leads popped up all over the US and even abroad. Her father spent over $100,000 searching for her. Dorothy’s erstwhile suitor, Griscom also spent a small fortune trying to obtain information. But no one ever found her.
Everyone seemed to have a theory. Some thought she’d simply decided to chuck her “old” life and start anew. Rumors circulated of a secret pregnancy and travel to Switzerland. Many assumed she was dead.
Real-life stories like this one drive me crazy. I want closure. I want resolution. And that’s one thing that fiction often offers us (and which I appreciate.) When frustrated by stories that don’t end the way I think they should, I often rewrite them in my head. So maybe you can give me a hand with this one. What do you think happened to Dorothy? How would you wrap up the story?
Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, LISA KARON RICHARDSON’S early stories were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. Now, even though she’s (mostly) grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city. Vanishing Act, the second in the Charm and Deceit, series co-authored with Jennifer AlLee, released in September 2013 as did “Midnight Clear,” part of the Mistletoe Memories collection.