Angel puts the jewelry in the bank and arranges to have some additional money sent to Tess, then travels to the Wellbridge Farm to finish some business there. He encounters Izz and impetuously invites her to go to Brazil with him. Izz agrees, and says that she loves him. He asks if she loves him more than Tess, and Izz replies that no one could love him as much as Tess did. Angel sadly takes Izz to her home and leaves for Brazil alone a few days later.
Tess finds sporadic work at different dairies and manages to conceal from her family that she is separated from her husband. When her money begins to run low, she is forced to dip into the money Angel left for her. Her parents write to her asking for money to help repair the cottage roof, and she sends them nearly everything she has. In the meantime, Angel is ill and struggling in Brazil as part of a desperate and failing community of British farmers. Even though she is short on money, Tess is too ashamed to ask the Clares for money.
Tess has heard from Marian of a farm where she might find work, and although it is purportedly a difficult place in which to get by, Tess decides to travel there. She encounters the man from Alec d’Urberville’s village who accused her of promiscuity in front of Angel and is forced to run and hide from him. She feels as if Alec is hunting her.
Continuing on her way, Tess stumbles upon a flock of pheasants, some of which have died and others that are in agony and pain. She suspects that hunters have shot them and will return to collect them. She feels an affinity for the birds in pain, and she instinctively breaks their necks to kill them and put them out of their misery. Afterward she compares her own plight with that of the pheasants and becomes angry at herself for thinking that she is the most miserable being on Earth.
“Poor darlings—to suppose myself the most miserable being on earth in the sight o’ such misery as yours!” she exclaimed, her tears running down as she killed the birds tenderly.
Tess takes to making herself ugly to protect herself from lustful men, and she cuts off her eyebrows and dresses in old, unattractive clothing. When Tess reaches the farm near the village of Flintcomb-Ash, Marian is curious about Angel, but Tess asks her not to inquire about him. The proprietress of the farm agrees to give Tess a job, and Tess sends her new address to her parents—though she does not acknowledge her marital or financial difficulties.
Tess and Marian work digging up rutabagas in rocky ground. After a time, Izz Huett joins them. They are sent to work in the barn in the winter, and Tess meets the man who owns the farm—it is the same man from Alec d’Urberville’s village. He accuses her of being a poor worker, and she offers to work harder to compensate. Marian tells Tess that Angel invited Izz to travel with him to Brazil, and Tess at first feels as though she should write to him. Before long, however, she is overcome by doubt as to whether she really should.