Her father complicated the matter by marrying suddenly a Parisian of the lower classes, a bird-fancier named Sophie Delaborde. His daughter, who was born in 1804, used afterward to boast that on one side she was sprung from kings and nobles, while on the other she was a daughter of the people, able, therefore, to understand the sentiments of the aristocracy and of the children of the soil, or even of the gutter.
She was fond of telling, also, of the omen which attended on her birth. Her father and mother were at a country dance in the house of a fellow officer of Dupin’s. Suddenly Mme. Dupin left the room. Nothing was thought of this, and the dance went on. In less than an hour, Dupin was called aside and told that his wife had just given birth to a child. It was the child’s aunt who brought the news, with the joyous comment:
“She will be lucky, for she was born among the roses and to the sound of music.”
This was at the time of the Napoleonic wars. Lieutenant Dupin was on the staff of Prince Murat, and little Aurore, as she was called, at the age of three accompanied the army, as did her mother. The child was adopted by one of those hard-fighting, veteran regiments. The rough old sergeants nursed her and petted her. Even the prince took notice of her; and to please him she wore the green uniform of a hussar.
But all this soon passed, and she was presently sent to live with her grandmother at the estate now intimately associated with her name—Nohant, in the valley of the Indre, in the midst of a rich country, a love for which she then drank in so deeply that nothing in her later life could lessen it. She was always the friend of the peasant and of the country-folk in general.
At Nohant she was given over to her grand-mother, to be reared in a strangely desultory sort of fashion, doing and reading and studying those things which could best develop her native gifts. Her father had great influence over her, teaching her a thousand things without seeming to teach her anything. Of him George Sand herself has written:
Character is a matter of heredity. If any one desires to know me, he must know my father.
Her father, however, was killed by a fall from a horse; and then the child grew up almost without any formal education. A tutor, who also managed the estate; believed with Rousseau that the young should be reared according to their own preferences. Therefore, Aurore read poems and childish stories; she gained a smattering of Latin, and she was devoted to music and the elements of natural science. For the rest of the time she rambled with the country children, learned their games, and became a sort of leader in everything they did.
Her only sorrow was the fact that her mother was excluded from Nohant. The aristocratic old grandmother would not allow under her roof her son’s low-born wife; but she was devoted to her little grandchild. The girl showed a wonderful degree of sensibility.