After Tess is refused a graveyard burial for her child, she leaves home and becomes a milkmaid. The surprising perk of the job is the presence of Angel Clare, son of a parson. He is learning the farm trade there, planning to emigrate, his parents are planning to set him up overseas. The true gentleman is the dream of all the girls, but only has eyes for Tess. She is as smitten after accidentally seeing him sleeping in the buff. He braves his mother's objections to wanting to marry a girl beneath the family's station, unlike Mercy Chant. Tess, at first, dares not accept on account of Mercy, a colleague and her past. As he doesn't object to her true genealogy, she reconsiders. Only when they are packed to leave, she discovers her last letter of confidences wasn't opened.