The important events in Walter's life include his discovery of a gold strike as a young man, marrying his wife and settling down on a ranch, his wife's death, the coming of Cloyd into his life, his return to the gold mine, his injury, and settling down again at home with Cloyd to help him.
As a young man, Walter had been a miner, and had had some success in this endeavor. He had actually discovered gold, but left the carefree but dangerous lifestyle of a miner before he had been able to determine the exact extent of his strike. Walter had married, and his wife had convinced him to settle down on a ranch. Walter loved his wife dearly, and although the dream of his gold strike still lived within him, he enjoyed many happy years in his new life as a married man and a rancher.
When his wife died, Walter was devastated. He took in Cloyd, an Indian boy in need of guidance, to live with him and to help out with the chores. Under this new arrangement, things, though difficult, at first seemed to be going well, until Cloyd felt betrayed by Walter and destroyed the peach grove that Walter's wife had so loved. Walter reacted in anger at first, but, being a man of deep understanding, was able to discern that unspoken cultural differences had been the cause of the boys' destructive action. The two of them set out on an adventure to explore the gold strike Walter had discovered so long ago, and Walter was seriously injured in the attempt. Although Walter's injuries were not life-threatening in themselves, they rendered him incapable of living alone on the ranch, a fact that diminished his will to live. Cloyd, however, offered to stay with Walter and help him with chores and the requirements of daily living, enabling the old man to stay on his beloved ranch.