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American George Maker Thompson decides that he doesn't want to be a pirate in the Caribbean any more and that he can make more money by going inland.
He meets with a businessman from New Orleans, Mr.Jinger Kind. They discuss the local people who they consider backward. Their idea is that by taking land from the natives and building roads they would be bringing civilization and progress in return for personal wealth.
Thompson also meets and is charmed by a local woman named Mayaris.
Thompson, Mr. Kind, Mayaris' mother, Dona Flora and a man called the Commander set about buying the land from the natives. They don't mind using bullying tatics and state that if gold bullets (money) doesn't work, there's always lead.
Things go smoothly until Mayaris realizes that Thompson is taking advantage of her people. A servant named Chipt hears Thompson and his people plotting to take over the land by whatever means possible. Chipo vanishes into the wild and goes from village to village to spread the word not to sell the land and resist by whatever means possible.
Dona Flora has a great deal of land herself. Her daughter, Mayrais dresses in wedding white and goes into a river to drown herself in protest against Thompson. Dona doesn't seem too distressed and later marries Thompson herself.
The book tells the story of a greedy U.S. corportion that wants to become rich by getting uneducated natives to sell the one thing they have, their land.
There isn't much suspense in the novel and it reads more like a journal than a novel. However it does deliver the message of greed against the innocent.