The door of the “panaderia” opened. Americans would have called the place a bakery, but the sign said “Panaderia,” which might be interpreted “breadery” or bake-house. All California does not read English, and it behooves shop-keepers sometimes to word their signs for the customers desired. In like manner the “Restaurante Mexicana,” across the street, on a sign advertised “comidas,” or meals, at twenty-five and fifty cents.
Through the panaderia doorway came a girl and a boy. They walked along by the “zanja,” or irrigation ditch, that here bordered the road. The fern-leaved pepper trees beside the zanja were dotted with clusters of small, bright red berries.
“Rosa,” said the boy, when the two had walked a little way, “I saw in that big yard many purple and green grapes, spread out drying for raisins.”
Rosa did not answer. She trudged on, carrying her basket of bread. The brother carried a loaf in brown paper. He and she lived at the panaderia, and had set forth to carry the bread to the two regular customers.
“Rosa,” stated the boy again, after a pause, “all the little oranges on the trees over there are green.”
Rosa did not even look toward the oranges.
“Rosa,” affirmed the boy emphatically, when a few minutes had gone by, “the Chinese doctor is measuring a window in his house! See! He has some little teacups and a teapot in his front room! I saw them just now.”
Rosa looked absently toward the old building, inside a window of which was visible the head of the Chinese doctor, who wore black goggles, and who was indeed measuring his window for some reason. Rosa had small hope of the Chinese doctor as a future customer. She had seen him eating his rice with chop-sticks, and he never came to buy a scrap of bread or anything else. Rosa sighed to think what would become of the panaderia, if all the world had the same opinion as the Chinese doctor, in regard to eating. In these days Rosa was in danger of looking upon the world from a strictly calculating standpoint, and of regarding only those people as worthy of her interest who either were or might become customers of the panaderia. Still indeed customers were needed, for the receipts had been slight, lately, and Rosa’s grandmother’s parrot, Papagayo, a bird of such understanding that he had learned to screech, “Pan por dinero,” (bread for money) had recently seen more of the former than of the latter in the shop.
Rosa and her brother still kept by the zanja, even when it turned away from the road. They went on till they reached the orange orchard of the Zanjero of the town. The Zanjero is the man who has the oversight of the irrigation system, and he has deputies under him. Rosa and her brother Joseph thought the Zanjero a great man, and stood much in awe of the irrigation laws concerning stealing water, or raising a gate to waste water, or giving water to persons outside the district.
The two bread-carriers went through the orange orchard, which was not being irrigated at this hour, for the Zanjero was particular himself to keep the hour that he paid for, as other men should be. Up to the Zanjero’s house Rosa now carried the bread, and his wife herself paid for it. Rosa tied the coins carefully in one corner of the black shawl that she wore over her head.
“Rosa,” anticipated Joseph aloud, as they went away through the orange orchard again, “when I am grown up, I shall be a Zanjero, and we will not have to keep the panaderia!”
But Rosa looked unbelieving. “It is not granted every man to be the Zanjero,” returned she gravely, “and I love the panaderia.”
It was true. She did love it, even to the castor-oil plants that grew like weeds in neglected places in the yard, and down to the south wall that was hung with a thick veil of red peppers that her grandmother was drying in the sun. It was only because the panaderia had not enough customers that Rosa looked so grave to-day. Besides, the grandmother’s birthday was near, and where was money for a present?