The narrator in this short story by Mark Twain is "out prospecting on the Stanislaus." He notices and describes his surroundings to the reader. In this first section of the story he tells the reader how he feels toward the men who built and lived in the cabins he comes across durning his travels.
"Round about California in that day were scattered a host of these living dead men-- pride-smitten poor fellows, grizzled and old at forty, whose secret thoughts were made all of regrets and longings--regrets for their wasted lives, and longings to be out of the struggle and done with it all." (Mark Twain)
The narrator seems to pity these men who, when they did not hit it rich, were to prideful to go home and admit their failure. They have aged young and gotten the life beat out of them from one disappointment after another.
His feelings are mixed, with the bitteerness and saddness of meeting the men in the cabins.