“No, Miss Vestal. But somewhere, somehow, a dead girl named Sandy Millbank got the name of an abortionist, who probably botched the job. She was very, very dead when we found her in the ferns, and we want the person who killed her. We want that person very badly, so that he doesn’t botch any more jobs, or take the lives of any more sweet girls who’re at the beginning of their lives.”
For once Wendy Vestal’s frost thawed a little. “It’s hard to be a woman, and you men don’t know that,” she said.
“Why there? Why there at the ferns, next to the West African lioness?” Sonntag asked.
“Because someone in Ranger Girls loved and honored her,” she said.
At last. “Someone in Ranger Girls knew she had reached the top rank?”
“Everyone in Ranger Girls knew she was a Lioness. There are only a few Lionesses in the United States, sir.”
“Someone in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, took her there. Do you know what she looked like when we found her?”
“I’m afraid I don’t want to know.”
“Someone placed her in a bed of ferns. Do you know what else?”
Miss Vestal simply stared.