Angel sits at breakfast and stares blankly forward, then suddenly packs up and leaves his hotel. Just before he goes out he gets a telegram saying his brother Cuthbert is engaged to Mercy Chant. Angel goes to the train station and then starts walking out of town, heartbroken. A force impels him to turn around and he sees someone pursuing him. Finally he realizes it is Tess.
Cuthbert has become the man Angel was supposed to be in terms of vocation and marriage, but it still seems like Angel is the favorite son. The force of destiny or the finger of God turns him back to Tess. The murder has been committed; now only Tess's inevitable doom remains.
Tess says she has killed Alec, and she smiles. Angel thinks she is delirious. She says she feared it would happen eventually, and she never loved Alec, and he ruined her life with Angel. She hopes Angel will forgive her again now that she has killed him.
Without Alec, Tess has become like an innocent girl again. She is finally free, and she experiences that freedom—at least for the moment—as if it did not come by murder.
Angel embraces Tess and say he does love her, but he still isn't sure if she has actually killed anyone. She weeps happily, and Angel sees that her love for him has eclipsed her other moral senses. He wonders if this murderous strain comes from her d'Urberville blood, and he thinks briefly of the legend of the d'Urberville coach, but then reassures himself that Tess is probably just delirious with grief.
Their happy reunion is surreal and corrupted by all the horrors of the past. Angel wonders, with Hardy, if murder was always in Tess's fate simply because she is a d'Urberville. The old coaches throughout the novel suddenly seem ominous in retrospect.
Whether the murder is a hallucination or not, Angel sees he needs to take care of Tess, and finally he kisses her and promises to never leave her again. They walk together and Tess looks at Angel as if he were Apollo or the man she first loved, and not the thin and sickly man he is now.
They tragically return to their old state of blissful lovers, each idealizing the other as godlike figures. However, the only way this dream could become real was through a murder which itself makes the dream impossible.
They feel intoxicated being together and can momentarily forget the murder, although Angel instinctively leads them further into the woods and away from civilization. They ramble about in random paths like children. Angel enters an inn for food but he makes Tess stay outside, as she is still dressed in noticeable finery.
The fantasy continues, but Angel also starts to accept that the murder is real. They cannot be both careless lovers and cautious fugitives – their dream world will be their undoing.
They eat and Angel forms a vague plan to lie low in central England until the crime has been forgotten. They walk through the green forest and come to an empty mansion, and after walking farther decide to turn back and stay there. They learn that the place only has an old woman caretaker, and they enter through an open window. The place is large and grand and they are glad to rest. They sit in silent darkness once the caretaker shuts the windows.
They finally start to make plans, but it is inevitable that Tess cannot escape her doom. They are at least able to walk through Nature in the spring together, as again the landscape reflects Tess's brief happiness. The abandoned mansion recalls their wedding night and the d'Urbervilles' lost glory and terrible fate.