Warning: everything in this post constitutes spoilers so please only read if you have finished under the Sugar Sun.
Okay, you have been warned.
If you’re still here, you know that Javier took control over Georgina’s search for Ben, heading off on his own to Catbalogan. This alpha male behavior infuriated Georgina. She then strong-armed Allegra and Lourdes to hand over the telegram messages that Javier sent to Lope Cuayzon, the merchant who is holding Ben. Those would have looked a lot like this (based on real receipts from the period):
Knowing Javier’s travel plans, Georgie followed him to Catbalogan. Javier found Ben, but he was a total wreck. The veteran was clearly suffering from what at the time would have been called “soldier’s heart,” or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We may understand this injury better now, but Georgina, like many at the time, would have considered it a type of homesickness. This is why she came to find him in the Philippines, and why she could not leave him there. As she explained to Javier:
“You would put the needs of Allegra and your mother above your own: you would travel to the edge of the earth to find them, live among strangers, humiliate yourself on a daily basis because you did not fit in no matter how much you tried—you would do all that for family, and you would not stop until you succeeded. You wouldn’t rest until they were safe.”
But Georgie did not realize how much Javier depended on her, too. His own debts plus Lope’s extortion pushed him to bankruptcy. (Does this sound like how John Thornton loses his factory in North and South? Yes, there was some inspiration there. Both heroes were noble men who are undone by a world beyond their control—John Thornton with the rapid changes of industrial labor conditions, and Javier Altarejos with the restrictive American trade laws…and the interference of an ambitious opium merchant.)
In the end, Hacienda Altarejos was put up for auction:
But Georgina did not know any of this. She and her brother were staying at the Hotel Oriente (yes, this Hotel Oriente) while she tried to arrange passage back to Boston. Since the finer hotels in Manila published lists of their guests (privacy, what?), I recreated a (true to form) front page of the business daily, the precursor of the Manila Bulletin:
In case you cannot see the guests clearly enough, look at the third column on this close up:
In the end, Ben refused to leave the Philippines for reasons that will become clear in Sugar Moon (upcoming). He abandoned a pregnant Georgina at the Hotel Oriente—after stealing most of her money—which makes her finally realize that she had been protecting the wrong “family” after all. Though she is incredibly stubborn—oh boy!—she becomes stubborn for the right man now: Javier. That is a story worth telling, and the newspapers do! (These are based on real Manila gossip columns, by the way.)
And from the (long since defunct) Sunday Sun:
Meanwhile, the hacienda was saved by Padre Andrés Gabiana. He kept the land in the family by selling one of Lázaro Altarejos’s assets (Andrés’s mother’s house in Cebu) to pay off the debts on the other (the hacienda). Importantly, this means he no longer has to live at Javier’s indulgence as the curate of San Honorato chapel. He became his own boss! And if the idea of a priest-hacendero sounds problematic to you, the Church will agree. We will see his own drama unfold in Sugar Communion (anticipated 2018), with the help of a pretty American doctor. Stay tuned!