In the beginning of “The Californian’s Tale,” the narrator is searching for gold in California. He is in the Stanislau hills that have long been deserted by previous gold seekers.
The narrator meets a man standing in front of a beautiful little house. Since he had been living the life of a gold seeker, he hadn’t seen the comforts of a nice home in a long time.:
"Here in this little house, my spirit seemed to come to life again." (pg 1)
Although he was entranced by the beauty of the house and by the beauty of the housekeeper, he knew he needed to move on and continue on his quest to find gold. The man talked him into staying until Saturday, four days hence. He said that day, his beautiful wife would be returning. The narrator wanted to meet her.
At the end of the story, the man’s friends explain to the narrator that the lady was captured by Indians nineteen years before, and that the man went mad with grief upon losing her. The reader can only imagine that the narrator will want to leave as soon as possible to maintain his own peace of mind for he had developed a curious fascination with the woman.
My copy of the story came from the internet so the page numbers may not coincide with your copy, but it should be close.