The chapter starts with a description of Angel Clare—he's not altogether sure what he's going to do in the future, although he's smart enough that everyone always used to say that he could do anything he wanted.
His decision to go into farming was a surprise to himself and to his family.
Angel's father was a lot older than his mother, so his father is old enough to be his grandfather.
(Here the narrator goes into a flashback.)
About three years before Tess first saw Angel at the Marlott club-walking, Angel orders a book of philosophy.
His father found the book, and got angry at Angel, claiming that the book might be "moral," but was not "religious" enough for a young man like Angel, who is intending to become a minister.
Um, said Angel. About that. He told his father that he didn't want to become a minister. He loved the church, but he thought that the church, as an institution, was too closed-minded.
His father was devastated, and said that if Angel weren't going to become a minister, he wouldn't pay for him to attend Cambridge University.
Angel said he would do without a university education.
So Angel had to find another career, one that wouldn't require a university degree.
He decided that farming in the American colonies would be his best bet, and so he started learning about all the different branches of farming.
(The flashback ends here.)
Now, at the Talbothays dairy, he's learning about cows and dairy farming.
He's twenty-six years old, and loving the company of his fellow dairymen and dairymaids.
Spending time with them has made him realize how bogus all his assumptions about farm workers were.
Tess has been there for several days, and Angel has hardly noticed her, because she doesn't talk once.
One day, though, he sits up and pays attention when he hears her talking with some of the other workers about out-of-body experiences.
She's telling them that if you lie on your back, and watch the stars, you'll suddenly feel that you're hundreds of miles away from your body.
She realizes that Angel is watching her, and becomes self-conscious at the breakfast table.
Angel thinks that she is "a genuine daughter of Nature," and wonders why she looks so familiar to him.
He figures he must have seen her in the country on a walk sometime (which is true, anyway), and this sense of familiarity, combined with his interest in what she was saying about the stars and her soul, makes him prefer her to the other women at the farm.