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Pip describes his life at Bernard's Inn with Herbert: "We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable and most of our acquaintances were in the same condition... our case was in the last aspect a common one."
They "check their affairs" by shuffling papers and bills and realize that, though they are in far in debt both, are quite unsure just how far in debt they have gone. Pip counts up the bills in his contribution to deal with the debt.