-=*=-To Austria With Love -=*=-
Chapter XIV-Finale (Of Part 2)

Author's Note: I just wanted to thank Paula B. and her dad for the help they gave me in the information on World War I. I do hope I did justice to it! Thank-you so much!! ~Anne

Neil came storming into the room when they allow him to finally see me. His hair disheveled and a bandage on his head. There were dark circles under his eyes, deep lines etched into his cheeks and forehead. His clothes were all wrinkled.

"Hello Neil!" I said with surprise. "What happened to your head?"

"I've got a pump knot on my head the size of a winter pinecone, but it's worth it."

"I can't tell you how happy I am to hear you talking like that again! I haven't heard you use any mountain expressions since I left Tennessee!"

"Why shucks ma'am! If'n I'd knowed yah was amissen hit so much I'd shorely used hit more offen!"

I giggled. "Have you seen our daughter yet?"

"Oh yes! That's how I got this bump on my head! She certainly is beautiful, Christy! Have you seen her?"

"Yes, Neil. I was there when she came into the world, remember?"

"She's the most beautiful baby on the planet!" Neil declared.

"I agree, we might be a tad prejudiced, don't you think?"

"Never! Anyone could look at our baby girl and see she's the most beautiful baby there ever was!"

I chuckled at Neil's enthusiasm. "Well, I'm glad you approve, Daddy!"

Neil's eyes shot wide-open as he stood with his mouth agape. "Daddy? I'm a daddy!" I nodded my head vigorously, with raised eyebrows. He came over to the bed and kissed me enthusiastically. "Thank-you Sweetheart! You've made every one of my dreams come true!"

"I didn't, Neil. God did."

"I know, but He used *you* to make so many of them come to pass."

Just then a knock on the door startled us both and it opened slightly as a nurse peeked around.

"I have a young lady here who would like to visit with her mother and father!" The nurse sang as she brought Amelia into the room. "Here father, why don't you have the honors first?" She said. "To begin with you need to put on this gown and mask over here." The nurse told Neil as she pointed to a stack of cloth on a shelf.

"But I'm a physician and a surgeon! I'm always careful of germs! Why do I have to wear those?"

"For one thing, germs may still be on your clothing. And second is that it is hospital policy. If you do not wear them then you cannot hold your daughter!" The nurse smiled broadly as she watched the expression on Neil's face. She knew that announcement would hit the center of the mark she was aiming for.

Neil had the gown and mask on in a matter of seconds!

Then the nurse showed Neil how to hold the baby. Not in the manner he was used to in delivering them, but the proper way, supporting her head and back.

"Isn't she beautiful?" Neil asked the nurse.

"Yes, that she is Dr. MacNeill!" The nurse said smiling at daddy and daughter. "Mrs. MacNeill, has your husband told you why his head is bandaged?"

I shook my head. "No, but I've been wondering about it."

"I am only saying this because the Doctor who treated him asked me to do so. When I brought your daughter to the window your husband fainted. He bumped his head on a table. He is to rest and tell us if he feels strange in any way. Tingling in his hands, nausea, etc. So if you hear him complain of anything, or notice that he's acting unusual--" At this moment Neil was speaking baby-talk to our daughter and the nurse smiled. "Perhaps I should say unusual even for a new father, you will be certain to tell us, will you not?"

"I will do just that. Thank-you for telling me, I know Neil never would have. I'll be on the look out for anything out of the ordinary for a new daddy." We giggled together, but Neil didn't seem the least bit amused.

The nurse turned and smiled at Neil; he did not reciprocate. She continued to smile as she headed out the door. Looking back at us one last time she said, "I will be back later. Enjoy your time with your daughter. When she fusses for something to eat ring for me and I will come back."

Neil walked over to me and sat on the edge of the bed. I couldn't help but smile at the sparkling eyes which peered over the top of the surgical mask. I don't think I had ever seen Neil so happy. Although our wedding portrait came close.

"So do you like your daughter, Mr. MacNeill?"

"I love *our* daughter, Sweetheart!" Looking up at me, Neil lowering his mask leaned in toward me, and placing his hand on my cheek he whispered. "Thank-you for giving her to me." He kissed me, not in a passionate way, but in some way it contained all of his love for us, his happiness, his pride, his concern for both Amelia and myself today as he waited nervously in the waiting room--it some how seemed to contain everything he felt for Amelia, and I.

"I love you Sweetheart." Neil whispered as he drew back just far enough to look into my eyes.

"I love you too, Neil!" I answered softly. "Thank-you also for our daughter. She's wonderful!" We both turned to look back at Amelia who was sound asleep in her daddy's arms.

"She looks very much like my mother, Christy! I thought she'd look just like you."

"Only time will tell who she will look like when she's older, but since your mother meant so much to you and we named our daughter after her, I'm glad Amelia Jean looks like Jean MacNeill."

I paused a moment looking at Neil's profile. He had tears in his eyes as well as a few glistening on his cheek. "Neil, are you alright?"

"I'm fine, Sweetheart." Neil said, looking away from me.

"No you're not, what's wrong Love?"

"I was thinking about--last time--" he said softly.

"You're son?"

He nodded his head, and just above a whisper he said, "Yes." Swallowing hard he continued. "He was so tiny. He never had a chance. He was born far too early. I held him, talked to him. His mother--" Neil swallowed hard again. "His mother didn't really want him, for she didn't want to-- as she said, 'perpetuate her kind'--"

I placed my fingers on his lips. "Neil, please don't say anymore." He shook his head. This time there was no teasing. I moved closer to him, as best I could this close to Amelia's birth. "I've told you dozens of times how *I* feel about you. There are no such thoughts going on in my mind! I love Amelia with all my heart. I've wanted her since before she was conceived! I'm very proud to have had *your* daughter.

"Don't ever think those bad thoughts any longer! Amelia will grow up thinking the world of her daddy. Do you know why?"

Neil shook his head, looking down at the tiny pink bundle in his arms.

"Because I do!" I placed my hand on his cheek and turned his head to face me. "She'll have respect and love for you because I will model it for her. Plus, you are going to be the greatest daddy any child could ever ask for! You've already been a wonderful daddy for Amelia, even before she was born. There is no man on this earth who ever wanted a child *more* then you! You will earn her love and respect because you genuinely love her and want only the best for her."

"I love you Christy." Neil whispered. "You make me feel so good about myself."

"I'm glad! I love you too Neil."

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The time past by so quickly following Amelia Jean's birth that I could hardly believe it when we were packing up everything we wanted to ship back to America as well as readying *ourselves* to leave Austria. As much as I wanted to go home, I hated that much to leave Austria behind, but the political unrest in this country was escalating and the only way for us to leave safely, was to leave soon.

Neil and I had spent our entire married life here! I looked forward to beginning a new life in America with Neil and Amelia, but there would always be a special place in my heart for Austria because of all that had happened while we lived here--Neil had learned so much and had grown in self-confidence while he was here. I had regained my sight. Amelia was born here! But America was home and I longed to be back there again!

We were planning our trip so we would arrive in Asheville the day before Thanksgiving. (We were planning a side-trip to Scotland.) My parents had no idea they were grandparents yet! I hadn't told them that I regained my sight either. These were to be surprises for them when we arrived. We planned to arrive at their home Thanksgiving morning and surprise the entire family! I could hardly contain my joy at the thought of being together with my family once again on Thanksgiving Day! It had been nearly two years since I had seen my family last. So much had happened that I could hardly wait to tell them all our news and hear all of theirs!

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Neil came home near the end of June yelling my name in a most anxious manner. One that I had never before heard from him. It made me sit up and take notice of him immediately.

I was sitting in the parlor nursing Amelia when he arrived. Passing the parlor door as he first arrived at home, Neil did not even see us sitting there until he entered through the entrance leading from the Dining Room.

Breathlessly he entered the room and sank into the chair beside us. "Christy, you will never believe what has happened!"

"I'm sure I won't Neil, what on earth is it!" The look in his eyes frightened me a little.

"Archduke Ferdinand has been assassinated in Sarajevo!" Archduke Francis Ferdinand was the heir to the Austrian throne.

"Dear God! It can't be true!"

"It is! I heard it at the hospital. Talk is that there will be a war. Austria is seriously considering declaring war on Serbia."

"Austria at war? I can hardly believe it!"

"Not only Austria at war, but we are in the midst of it. I have seen much unrest in Vienna on my way from the hospital. I fear we must leave here as quickly as possible. We may not even be able to leave in the way we had planned. There may have to be a change in our plans if we do not leave as soon as may be."

"Yes--yes, of course. We shall leave as soon as ever may be, Neil. I will ready all of our things."

"I will have our furnishing, trunks and boxes sent out as quickly as possible. Hopefully I will be able to get them shipped home before war is declared. Whether they will ever arrive at our home remains to be seen."…

That hope was in vain for directly on the heels of the assassination was the declaration of war. Neil had everything shipped, but whether or not they would ever arrive at our destination was another matter entirely. Though getting our belongs shipped home was an important aspect to us, our main concern was of course to get ourselves home safely. Traveling with Amelia would be a sticky situation, but there was no other way. In fact Amelia would be the pressing concern for us. She would be our driving force to get home safely for she had only begun her life and she *must* be brought to America safely.

End of "To Austria With Love".
Coming soon, the finale in this trilogy: "Escape from Austria"-Chapter One.