When had Santiago first met Andalusian merchant?
Hello! The story opens with Santiago and his sheep seeking shelter at an old, abandoned church for the night. Santiago is leading his sheep to a village where he will sell the wool to a merchant whom he has only met once, the year before. We are then given a brief flashback of Santiago's time with the dry goods merchant. During his visit the previous year, the merchant's daughter told him about life in the village, and her father told Santiago about life in the Andalusian countryside. When the merchant's daughter asked Santiago how he managed to learn to read, he told her that he learned in school. She then asked him why he is only a shepherd if he could read.
Now, in four days' time, he will reach the same village once more. He is excited, but also uneasy. He worries that the girl has already forgotten him. With all the bravado he can muster, he assures his sheep that if she has forgotten him, he knows plenty of girls in other places.
Thanks for the question.