"Herbert!" Clara called out, her eyes searching all around the garden for her beloved.
She found him sitting on a bench, staring morosely into the pond, his eyes red. Gently, she sat down beside him, and took his hand.
"You do not understand, Clara." Herbert sighed, stroking her hand softly "My dear Clara. That woman, that Estella – she is a bad influence."
"How is it that you say I do not understand, my love?" she replied, calmly and gently "I, of all people, should know better than anyone."
Herbert looked at his wife quizzically. Clara continued, eyes fixed on the pond, as though she were looking deep into the water "Do you not remember, my love, that I once thought Pip himself a bad influence on you?"
"I do – but that was so long ago! And not without good reason, mind; we were both living well beyond our means. Indeed, I was living not only beyond my own means, but I was living well beyond Pip's means, which at the time were considerably more than mine."
"It wasn't that," Clara shook her head, smiling "Well, it wasn't only that."
She turned to her husband, serious "You do not like the way he looks at her."
"I-" Herbert began.
"You do not like the way Pip looks at Estella - so tenderly, with such admiration. You do not like the way he speaks of her - with such quiet, desperate longing. You do not like the way he thinks about her - with such sadness, and such love. Love that you know she does not, and cannot return."
"And this hurts you. And you ask yourself why does he look at this person so? This person who is so oblivious, who by their very nature can never return his affection! It would be so much better, you think; if these glances, these words, these thoughts were reserved only for those who could reciprocate such things. Reserved only for you -"
"Clara!" Herbert blushed beetroot red.
Clara smiled softly and let out a small laugh "My dearest Herbert," she said, still smiling at her husband "Give this lady another chance. According to Pip, she is much changed! Long ago, I listened to you speak of Pip with such fondness as I saw bills piling up - I feared he would bring great unhappiness to you. But you loved him. And soon, though I am sure he was quite oblivious to the depths of your devotion, he returned your love in his own way - proving to be a loyal and steadfast friend to both of us."
Herbert stared at Clara, breathless and silent.
"You cannot choose to whom your beloved gives his love. You can only hope for the best," she grinned "and learn to share."
After a moment's silence, Herbert laughed and hugged Clara close to him, kissing her forehead. "What a wonderful thing," he said "for the son of my mother to fall in love with a girl with so much good sense."