In Chapter XXVI Angel and his parents discuss his future in farming and a prospective wife. They want him to marry a local girl with lots of virtue, he wants to marry Tess who he thinks has lots of virtue. Oh, and Daddy Clare tells a story about a d’Urberville man he met in Tantridge that he tried to save from a life of sin.
Angel has arrived home during nap time at the dairy. But Tess has just woken up and runs into Angel while still half asleep, scaring her. Angel hugged her and told her to stop calling him Mr. Clare. She’s a bit freaked out by the whole exchange and insists she has to go skim the milk. He goes to help her.
While they are skimming together Angel offers a terrible marriage proposal.
“I may as well say it now as later, dearest,” he resumed gently. “I wish to ask you something of a very practical nature, which I have been thinking of ever since the day last week in the meads. I shall soon want to marry, and, being a farmer, you see I shall require for my wife a woman who knows all about the management of farms. Will you be that woman, Tessy?”
Tess internally freaks out, loving him, but not expecting this and not willing to marry him because of her past. Angel also hadn’t planned it quite this way, maybe that’s why it sucked so much.
Tess tells him no. Angel asks if she loves him. She says yes, but that she cannot marry him.
Angel asks if she’s engaged to someone else, she says no. Then Tess says that she thinks his parents wont approve. He of course says he already discussed it with them. Angel agrees to give her some time.
But she’s shaking, literally, she can’t skim, and she’s got tears in her eyes. Angel changes the subject to his parents and religion. I’m not entirely sure what Hardy is talking about with his beliefs and Tess’ beliefs, but I think he’s flexible in terms of what her beliefs might be.
But Angel doesn’t stop there, he goes on about issues his father is having. Going so far as to mention his father’s interaction with a certain man in Trantridge… Tess is trying not to freak, but Angel is stuck in his own thoughts that he didn’t notice.
Angel does take one last chance to ask her about his proposal. Tess says no again and the chapter closes with Tess sad and Angel wondering if he’s not the right type of man for her.