It is the season of fertility and “oozing fatness” in Froom Valley, and it seems inevitable that passion should grow there. It is very hot outside, and the warmth echoes Angel's feelings. All the workers, birds, and cows constantly seek shade or breeze.
Hardy again associates fertility and abundance with Tess, and here with her and Angel's passion. Her happy times coincide with the vitality of Nature.
One afternoon Tess starts milking one of her favorite cows, with her head resting meditatively in profile. Angel watches her, and her face is “lovable” to him, no longer otherworldly but real and vital, and her lips impossibly beautiful. Tess then realizes he is watching her but does not change her position. Angel is overcome by passion, all his prudent logic disappears, and he embraces her.
In one sense Tess is becoming more of a unique person for Angel and less of an ideal, but in many ways he has just exchanged the ideal of essential female/goddess for innocent maid/pure child of Nature.
Tess is surprised, but accepts his action with “unreflecting inevitableness” and gives a cry of joy. Angel again almost kisses her, but then apologizes for not asking Tess's permission, and declares his devotion to her.
Tess accepts her fate yet again, but this time it is one she actually desires. Angel contrasts with Alec in the chasteness and hesitation of his advances.
The cow grows restless and Tess moves to save the milk. They sit together and Tess starts to cry. Angel worries that he has been too forward and taken advantage of her innocence. Crick comes by again, but now something has changed between Angel and Tess, something impractical but leading to a new perspective and future for them both.
Tess grieves her unavoidable situation in a society that would condemn her love and good fortune. A wall has been broken between her and Angel, and their destinies are now inexorably bound together.