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16. What profit did I, a wretched one, receive from those things which, when
I remember them now, cause me shame--above all, from that theft, which I loved
only for the theft's sake? And, as the theft itself was nothing, I was all the
more wretched in that I loved it so. Yet by myself alone I would not have done
it--I still recall how I felt about this then--I could not have done it alone.
I loved it then because of the companionship of my accomplices with whom I did
it. I did not, therefore, love the theft alone--yet, indeed, it was only the
theft that I loved, for the companionship was nothing. What is this paradox?
Who is it that can explain it to me but God, who illumines my heart and searches
out the dark corners thereof? What is it that has prompted my mind to inquire
about it, to discuss and to reflect upon all this? For had I at that time loved
the pears that I stole and wished to enjoy them, I might have done so alone,
if I could have been satisfied with the mere act of theft by which my pleasure
was served. Nor did I need to have that itching of my own passions inflamed
by the encouragement of my accomplices. But since the pleasure I got was not
from the pears, it was in the crime itself, enhanced by the companionship of
my fellow sinners.