Summary: Chapter XX
As the months pass, Angel and Tess grow closer, and Tess finds herself in the happiest phase of her life. They wake up early, before the others, and feel as if they are the only people on Earth. Indeed, the dairy seems to be an Eden, where Angel is Adam and Tess is Eve. Tess is Angel’s “visionary essence of woman,” and he playfully nicknames her “Artemis” and “Demeter.” Tess does not understand these nicknames and simply tells him to call her Tess. They continue to enjoy the morning, as the summer fog slowly lifts and birds swoop and play in the misty air.
Summary: Chapter XXI
Life on the dairy begins to change. There is worry about the butter, which is not churning properly. Mrs. Crick jokes that this sort of thing happens only when someone on the farm falls in love. Indeed, there are two people who are in love, and the milkmaids often discuss Angel’s noticeable love for Tess and imagine what the future will hold for them. Tess does not want to marry, though, because she is still ashamed of her past. After some further churning, the butter begins to set and everyone’s fears melt away—except for Tess’s.
Summary: Chapter XXII
Early in the morning, the Cricks receive a letter from a customer who complains that the butter he has bought from them “had a twang,” or a sharp taste. Mr. Crick realizes that this taste must be the result of the cows eating from garlic weeds. The dairymaids go out to the pasture to search for these disastrous weeds. Tess feels faint, and Mr. Crick encourages Tess to take a moment to rest. Angel stops with her, and she makes a point of mentioning the virtues of two of her close milkmaid friends, Izz and Retty. Angel agrees that they are nice women and capable dairymaids, but indicates that he has no romantic interest in them.
Summary: Chapter XXIII
Two months after her arrival at the dairy, Tess sets out with her friends to attend the Mellstock Church. There has been a torrential downpour the day before, and the girls come to a long stretch of flooded road. Angel offers to carry them across, and they agree. All the girls notice that Angel takes the longest with Tess, and they each realize that he prefers her.
Tess begins to avoid Angel, but she notices from afar his grace and self-discipline in the company of the girls who dote on him. One night, Marian, Izz, and Retty each confess to feeling love for Angel, and Tess feels guilty, since she too loves Angel but has already decided never to marry. She wonders if she is wrong to take so much of his time.
Summary: Chapter XXIV
Later that summer, Angel and Tess are milking cows, and Angel is overcome with his feeling for Tess. He embraces her, and she gives way to her feelings for a moment before trying to pull away. Angel tells Tess he loves her and is surprised to hear the words come out of his mouth. No one has noticed their encounter, and the two return to their milking, shaken.