Angel returns to his parents’ home, haggard and gaunt after his tribulations abroad. He reads Tess’s angry letter, and he worries that she will never forgive him. His mother haughtily declares that he should not worry about the opinions of a poor commoner, and Angel reveals to her Tess’s exalted lineage.
Angel spends a few days at home regaining his strength. He writes a letter to Tess addressed to Marlott, and finally receives a reply from Tess’s mother informing him that they have left Marlott and that Tess is no longer with the family.
After a short time spent waiting, Angel decides that he must not delay his reunion with Tess. He is encouraged in this feeling by the revelation that Tess has not used any of the money Angel left with his father. Angel realizes that Tess must have suffered great poverty while he was abroad, and he is overcome with pity and guilt. Angel’s parents finally guess the secret cause of their son’s estrangement from Tess, and find that the knowledge disposes them to feel more kindly toward their daughter-in-law. Just before Angel leaves, he receives the letter from Marian and Izz.
Angel sets out to find his wife, traveling through the farm at Flintcomb-Ash and through Marlott, where he learns of the death of Tess’s father. He finds the elaborate gravestone of John Durbeyfield, and when he learns that it is unpaid for, he settles the bill. When he meets Joan, he finds his mother-in-law uncomfortable and hesitant to tell him where Tess has gone. At last she takes pity on him and reveals that Tess is in Sandbourne.
In Sandbourne, Angel is unable to find a Mrs. Clare or a Miss Durbeyfield, but he does learn that a d’Urberville is staying at an expensive lodging called The Herons.
Angel hurries to The Herons and is impressed by its grandeur. He wonders how Tess could possibly afford it and thinks she must have sold his godmother’s diamonds. When Tess appears, she is dressed in expensive clothing. Angel pleads for her forgiveness and tells her that he has learned to accept her as she is and desperately wants her to come back to him. Brokenhearted, Tess replies that it is too late—thinking Angel would never come back for her, she gave in to Alec d’Urberville’s desires and is now under his protection. Tess leaves the room, and Angel rushes out of the house.