In Chapter XL Angel wonders if he’s been too hard on Tess. But then offers to take another woman to Brazil with him. He realizes the error in that and leaves for Brazil on his own.
In chapter XLI eight months have passed and its now October. Tess has been working at a dairy near Port-Breedy, to the West of where she grew up. She is pretty much dead inside, holding on to the last bit of money that Angel gave her, for sentimental reasons.
Tess has been keeping in touch with her mother, though she has not revealed the truth of her situation. Then she gets a letter asking if she and her husband can send 20 pounds so they can get their roof fixed. Seemed they still owed money from the last time it was fixed. Why am I not surprised?
Tess does send to Angel’s bank for the money and a little extra to help her prepare for the winter. Although she considers contacting Angel’s father, she does not.
Meanwhile, Angel is sick with fever in Curtiba, Brazil. Apparently, Brazil is not like they showed it in the brochure!
With the milking season over, Tess finds herself without a job or place to go. She considers many options and decides to head towards an upland farm that Marian is working at.
It seems that Tess is grabbing the attention of men with her looks. While it’s just a passing glance when she’s dressed up, when she’s dressed as a field woman the men are more aggressive.
One day in November she was traveling through the village of Chalk-Newton where she was going to spend the night. While standing at the top of a hill, a man walks up to her and greets her. He goes on to tell her that he remembers her from Tantridge and that she owes him because her “fancy-man” punched him.
What did Tess do? She ran away and found/made a hiding place for herself in a nearby plantation. She slept there that night and pretty much wished she was dead.
Eventually she started hearing strange sounds, when dawn brakes she sees several pheasants lying on the ground, some were dead while others were still dying. It seems these are the result of a hunting party. Party or not, I think Hardy is sending a clear message to us readers. Tess does the humane thing and kills the near death birds.
This instance helps her to realize that she’s been wallowing in her own level of self-pity. Here she is complaining about being without Angel, but she has the basics to live life. “Poor darlings-to suppose myself the most miserable being on the earth in the sight o’ such misery as yours!”
Please tell me that the strong, not miserable, Tess will be back in Chapter XLII!