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Kaspar Almayer is a Dutch merchant taken under the wing of the wealthy Captain Lingard. Hoping to one day inherit Captain Lingard's wealth Almayer marries his daughter. The marriage is loveless, Captain Lingard loses much of his fortune searching for a hidden treasure, and Almayer's ventures continually fail. The rest of the novel concerns Almayer's conflicting desires: his love for his daughter and his desire for money and self-redemption.