The Creature first observes De Lacey from the inside of his sty: "In one corner, near a small fire, sat an old man, leaning his head on his hands in a disconsolate attitude" (2.3.7). He further describes the
old man, who, taking up an instrument [a guitar], began to play, and to produce sounds, sweeter than the voice of the thrush or the nightingale. ... The silver hair and benevolent countenance of the aged cottager, won my reverence.The Creature is likewise struck by his "silver hairs and a countenance beaming with benevolence and love" (2.3.8).
The Creature soon discovers De Lacey is blind (2.4.1), and as he learns language, he learns about the family. He learns first their names and familial relations: "I learned also the names of the cottagers themselves. The youth and his companion had each of them several names, but the old man had only one, which was father. The girl was called sister, or Agatha; and the youth Felix, brother, or son" (2.4.3). Later he learns their story:
The name of the old man was De Lacey. He was descended from a good family in France, where he had lived for many years in affluence, respected by his superiors, and beloved by his equals. His son was bred in the service of his country; and Agatha had ranked with ladies of the highest distinction. A few months before my arrival, they had lived in a large and luxurious city, called Paris, surrounded by friends, and possessed of every enjoyment which virtue, refinement of intellect, or taste, accompanied by a moderate fortune, could afford. (2.6.1Safie's father is the cause of their ruin: Felix's plot to save the father of his beloved and his betrayal by him result in the imprisonment and exile of the De Lacey family. The family settled in Germany (although they are French speakers) and lived in poverty.
The Creature, hoping to make his presence known to the family, decides to begin with old De Lacey, whose blindness will prevent him from being horrified by him (2.7.7). The Creature begins to relate his story and his hopes of finding a friend, when Felix returns to the cottage, and drives the Creature from it. When he returns later, the family has abandoned the cottage.