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Authors: Gilbert L. Morris

Fire Over Atlanta

BOOK: Fire Over Atlanta
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© 1997 by
L. M

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

Interior and Front Cover Design: Ragont Design
Back Cover Design: Brady Davidson
Cover Illustration: Brian Jekel

ISBN: 978-0-8024-0919-5

We hope you enjoy this book from Moody Publishers. Our goal is to provide high-quality, thought-provoking books and products that connect truth to your real needs and challenges. For more information on other books and products written and produced from a biblical perspective, go to
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Printed in the United States of America

To Sue Branstetter

the best typist
and researcher on the planet!!!


1. Leah Makes a Decision

2. Friends Fall Out

3. Drake Sees a Miracle

4. Drake Takes a Prisoner

5. Colonel Majors and His Nurse

6. Charlie Makes a Decision

7. Worse Than a Chigger

8. A Proposal

9. “What’s Going On?”

10. Rosie Steps In

11. A New Man

12. Disaster for Leah

13. “With This Ring …”

14. A Dress for Charlie

15. The Prettiest Girl at the Ball

16. The End and the Beginning

17. Jeff Has a Visitor

Leah Makes a Decision

ith a grunt, Leah Carter tugged at the buttons on the back of her dress. She struggled so violently that her face turned red, but no matter how hard she tried she simply could not fasten the garment.

“I’m getting to be nothing but a great big cow!” In a gesture of despair, Leah ran her hands through her blonde hair and stared at her image in the mirror. “Nothing but a big cow!”

Her full lower lip extended in a pout. Impatiently she pulled the dress over her head, held it up, stared at it angrily. She knew that it was foolish to be angry at the dress.

She glanced then at the homemade calendar on the wall and noted the date. June 20, 1864. The memory of that day a year ago came to her, and she lowered the dress slowly and sat down on the edge of the bed. The cornshuck mattress whispered and rustled.

“It was just a year ago today that I got this dress,” she whispered. “I was so proud of it—and Jeff was too.” She held up the garment. It was royal blue with beautifully executed bone buttons at the back, white cuffs, and a white collar to match. She remembered how Jeff had taken her for a walk down the streets of Richmond and how he had whispered, “You’re the prettiest girl in Richmond, Leah Carter!”

As Leah remembered, a dreamy look came into her blue-green eyes. She thought of Jeff Majors and wished that the dress still fit.

Then she thought of the party she was invited to at Lucy Driscoll’s house tonight, and she threw the dress across the room. It sailed through the air, hit the wall, and dropped in a crumpled heap on the worn, blue-figured carpet.

Leah walked around the confines of her small bedroom, coming finally to stand at the window. She stared at the tall oaks lining the dusty road that led to Richmond in one direction and to the Driscoll house in the other. It was a fine day, and soon Jeff would be coming down that road to take her to Lucy’s party. She felt a sudden twinge of jealousy.

“I bet Lucy will have a dress sent all the way from France on one of the blockade runners,” she muttered. She turned from the window, walked over to the large, polished, walnut wardrobe, and stared inside again, although she knew it was hopeless. She pawed through her few dresses and wished that she had the green dress that she had left at her home back in Kentucky. And then she shook her head.
That one would be too small too!

The big black-and-white cat lying in the center of her bed lifted his massive head and looked at her with golden eyes. He said, “Wow?” which always made Leah laugh.

She laughed now. Then she fell across the bed and ran her hand over the cat’s smooth, glossy fur. “You’re all right, Cap’n Brown!” she said. He seemed to be wearing a black-and-white suit with the white of his neck forming a white cravat. He had been placed in the barn to catch rats and mice, but Leah had taken him into the house and for some reason
had decided to call him Cap’n Brown. She picked up the cat, and he purred as she stroked his ebony fur, lifting his head to be tickled under his chin. “I know what you want,” she said. “You want to be brushed.”

“Wow,” Cap’n Brown said, and Leah again laughed. She found his brush and began giving him long, easy strokes. Cap’n Brown arched his back with pleasure as the brush traveled down his lanky body.

“I wish my hair were as easy to fix as yours,” she said, reaching up to touch her blonde locks. She had washed her hair with rainwater just that morning, and it was still slightly damp, the ends of it curling. She realized that she had to do something with it.

“I can’t be brushing you all the time, Cap’n Brown.” She tossed him off her lap.

He landed lightly on the bed, stared at her, then yawned and curled up and immediately went to sleep.

With a sigh, Leah went back to the wardrobe and chose the only dress that would do at all for the party. It was one she had made only four weeks earlier, so she knew the fit was right. The trouble was that it was not intended to be a party dress.

She held it up to the light. “It’s just a plain, old brown dress,” she said, “but it’s either that or wear overalls.” Quickly she slipped it on, looking longingly again at the royal blue dress that was so pretty.

She sat down then at the little desk beside her spool bed and pulled a small book toward her. This was the journal for which she had spent twenty-five Confederate dollars
earlier in the year. If I were buying it now, she thought, it would cost fifty dollars or seventy-five or perhaps even a hundred. Confederate money was practically worthless.

“I’m glad I bought it when I did,” she murmured, then dipped a quill into the glass inkwell and began to write. It was a pleasure to write in her journal, and she loved looking back and seeing what she had been thinking six months ago. Some of it made her laugh, and other writing embarrassed her for she was able to see her own foolishness.

The turkey quill scratched across the page as Leah wrote in tiny, ornate script, dipping the pen from time to time into the ink, which also was growing scarce. She stopped after a time and reread what she had written:

Am I a girl—or am I a woman? Just now I tried on the blue dress that fit me perfectly a year ago, but now I can’t even squeeze into it. I’m no taller than I was then, and I thank the Lord for that! I’m tall enough already at five feet seven, which is plenty. But I’ve filled out so that I’ve got to wear my brown dress, and it was never meant for a party. But I’m going to Lucy’s party, no matter what!

She sat at the desk, dreamily thinking of what her life had been like. Looking back through the journal, she saw entries about things that had taken place when she was at home with her family in Pineville. She read again, with pleasure, about bringing Jeff’s baby sister, Esther, to be with his family here in Richmond.

She read references to the Majors family and to Jeff himself, who had been her best friend all her life. They had the same birthday, and now Leah thought
of how Jeff, at eighteen, had changed from a lanky, wild-haired boy to a fine-looking man like his father, Col. Nelson Majors, and like his older brother, Tom.

The Majors family had moved South at the beginning of the Civil War. Then Colonel Majors’s wife died, leaving the small child that she named Esther. And now the three Majors men were all in Richmond with the Confederate army.

Leah’s lips curled upward as she thought of baby Esther, whom she had cared for and who had taken up so much of her life. Not a baby now, for she was three years old and talking more every day.

She thought also of the future. Colonel Majors and Eileen Fremont planned to be married soon, and Esther would have a new mother. Jeff, at first, had been opposed to his father’s taking another wife. But he had come around and now seemed to love Eileen Fremont as much as he had disliked her before.

Leah began to write again:

I know that Lucy will have a beautiful dress, and she’s so little and pretty that she makes me look even more gawky and bigger than I am. And Jeff, he’s just like all the rest of the boys. Just dazzled by Lucy. What chance do I have? I’ll have to wear a dress that isn’t pretty, and I won’t get to dance a single time with Jeff, and I’ll just sit in a corner, and nobody will even notice me!

Slowly Leah leaned back, wiped the quill on a piece of cloth kept for that purpose, and put the brass cap on the ink bottle. She sprinkled a little fine, white sand over the writing to dry it, blew it off, and then read what she had written. Something
about it, she knew, was wrong, but she could not understand what. What she thought was,
I’m seventeen years old, and that’s a woman—but sometimes I don’t feel grown up. So what am I? A little girl or a woman?

The Driscoll home was ornate, large, beautiful, and, Leah knew, filled with expensive paintings and decorations. As Jeff stopped the team in front of the big portico with its eight white columns, again she felt intimidated by it all. She watched as a tall slave came out and took the lines from Jeff.

The man flashed his white teeth. “Yes, suh, I will take care of this team. The party’s startin’. You better get on in!”

“Thanks.” Jeff got down and went around to Leah’s side and put up a hand.

She took it, noting that he looked very handsome indeed in his ash-gray Confederate uniform. He had begun the war as a drummer boy at Bull Run but now was a full-fledged private in the Stonewall Brigade. His black belt and boots and the red sash around his trim middle made him look very athletic. She glanced at his hair, the blackest she had ever seen, and thought again,
He’s the best-looking boy I’ve ever known

All the way to the Driscoll house, Jeff had talked about going back to duty. He still moved his left arm rather awkwardly, for he had been slightly wounded at the siege of Petersburg. General Grant, with thousands of Federal soldiers, was still drawn up in front of that city, and the Confederates were fighting in a desperate attempt to keep them from coming through and taking Richmond.

BOOK: Fire Over Atlanta
4.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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