The cart moves onto Egdon Heath, and the two are silent for a long time. It starts to rain, and Tess's hair comes undone. The evening gets cold and she and Angel huddle close under a sailcloth. He asks her for an answer sometime before they get home. At that moment they drive by an old mansion, and Angel says it once belonged to the d'Urberville family.
The d'Urbervilles always seem to pop up at bad times, reminding Tess that she cannot escape the past and is perhaps always doomed. It is again a gray hour like their many pre-dawn meetings.
They reach the railway station, which is the point where modern society daily touches their “secluded world.” They unload the milk, and Tess looks totally out of place among the machinery.
Tess is explicitly contrasted with the industrial machinery and held up as an example of ancient Nature and purity.
They start to ride back and discuss who will drink the milk far away in London. The city people have to water it down before they can stomach it. Angel changes the subject to his proposal, and again tries to clarify Tess's objections.
The milk becomes another symbol of modern life's separation from Nature. The dairy workers drink the raw, pure milk, while the city people have to water it down.
Tess begins to tell her history, but Angel dismisses her worries or possibly troubled past. Tess reveals that she is actually a d'Urberville. not a Durbeyfield, and pretends that this was the truth she had been withholding, because she heard Angel hated old families.
Angel again condescends and assumes he knows Tess's past. This is the moment of truth, and Tess slips up in her conviction. This is possibly the only selfish decision she has made, but note that it is only a big deal because of social conventions. She doesn't actually have anything to be guilty about, as she did nothing wrong.
Angel laughs at her and says the history of ancient families is interesting to him. Tess realizes she has failed in her conviction, and feels she acted selfishly. Angel says he would have liked her to be truly a child of the soil instead of corrupt aristocrats, but Tess herself has now disabused him of his prejudice.
Tess immediately feels guilty, although truthfully her history shouldn't even be an issue. She can cure Angel of his small prejudice against old families, but not of the large one he and society hold against women like her (who were, in fact, brutally harmed).
Angel asks that Tess call herself d'Urberville now, and thinks his mother will be impressed. Tess would rather not, and then Angel mentions the young man who abused his father, and the coincidence that he was a false d'Urberville. Tess gets upset and says the name is unlucky.
Alec again intrudes on Tess's happiness, even from far away, and the d'Urberville name seems like a bad omen. Mrs. Clare's concern with social norms is made more explicit.
Angel says she should take his name instead, and so escape the d'Urbervilles. Then Tess finally accepts and Angel kisses her. She immediately starts crying, both out of gladness and for having broken her promise to never marry. She says sometimes she wishes she were dead. Angel is slightly offended, but then Tess kisses him of her own volition, and he truly believes she loves him.
Another major turning point in Tess's life, this one potentially for the better, but she still can't escape her guilt and inner turmoil. She takes a little agency and kisses Angel herself, actively showing love instead of being always the object of desire.
Nature always wins against the weak and arbitrary rules of society, so it was inevitable that Tess should have agreed eventually. Tess asks to write to her mother in Marlott, and finally Angel remembers where they met. Tess hopes that his first refusal of her is not a bad omen.
Hardy explains how this result was unavoidable from the beginning, that “what will be will be” despite our feeble social rules. Yet another mention of the past seems like an omen for the future.