In Chapter XXVII Angel proposes to Tess, who refuses. He further reminds her of why she can’t marry him by mentioning his father’s story about the man in Tantridge.
Angel may have said he would give Tess time to consider, but he’s a persistent man. In chapter XVIII he knows that woman sometimes say no before saying yes. So, he continues to ask Tess about marrying him. Not only that, he wants to know why she says no. Tess says that she’s not worthy enough.
Angel insists that he and his family will welcome her. But she insists that she cannot marry him. At that he realizes maybe he shouldn’t be hugging her… He of course then insists that she’s in love with someone else or that she doesn’t love him. Angel is sounding a little slow, or maybe just not very experienced in life.
Tess feels very conflicted with this. She knows she loves him, she knows he loves her and that they would be happy together. However, Tess is conflicted about what would happen if Angel ever found out the truth about her. She also wonders how no one has told him about her. Tantridge is only 40 miles away, someone must know her secret.
Angel leaves her alone for a few days. But Mr. and Mrs. Crick have picked up on their budding romance and they are eventually left alone again. Angel makes another play for Tess by taking her arm and kissing the inside of it. Angel starts to wonder out loud if Tess is just teasing him and being a flirt, even though he knows her to be the “most honest, spotless creature that ever lived.” She insists that she likes the idea of marrying him, and then runs away because she’s freaked out.
Angel follows her and wants an answer; Tess finally agrees that she will tell him on Sunday. Tess then goes off to an area of the farm where she will not be seen and spends the rest of the day contemplating her situation.
Every ounce of her body tells her to say yes to him.
“Reckless, inconsiderate acceptance of him; to close with him at the alter, revealing nothing, and chancing discovery; to snatch ripe pleasure before the iron teeth of pain could have time to shut upon her: that was what love counselled; and in almost a tenor of ecstasy Tess divined that, despite her many months of lonely self-chastisement, wrestlings, communings, schemes to lead a future of austere isolation, love’s counsel would prevail.”
In the days that pass before Sunday the other girls realize that something is going on with Tess. When Tess hears one of the girls say his name in their sleep she decides she will have to marry him. “I can’t bear to let anybody have him but me! Yet it is a wrong to him, and may kill him when he knows! O my heart-O-O-O!”
Thankfully the girl has made a decision. Unfortunately, she’s a character in a Thomas Hardy book. I’m betting Alec d’Urbervilles shows up in the next chapter.