THE OCTROI AT ISSOIRE. 439
old story here. We do all the work, and somebody el'se gets all the profits. Now we have to buy and pay for the boots we make our- selves. The cowhide in a pair of boots costs the capitalists but a franc, and we, the boot-makers, pay twenty francs for the boots when we have made them. The other nineteen francs are the product of labor, and ought to belong to us. Our boots should be furnished at a franc a pair."
So they held a mass-meeting in the cafe of the Lion d'Or, and resolved that the rights of man were not respected in Issoire. They sent a delegation to the mayor, asking that boots for the workingman be furnished at the expense of the town. This would be but justice, and, moreover, it was the only way to start anew the wheels of industry. Money should not be locked up in the city treasury. It should go from man to man, and this action was sure to set it going.
Then the schoolmaster wrote a long letter to the Issoire " Ga- zette," and showed very clearly that this claim was on the whole a just one. Nobody understood the argument, but all applauded it because it looked very learned ; and, moreover, its conclusions were in harmony with their previous opinions. The schoolmaster showed that, as boots were worth twenty francs a pair, and the leather in them cost but one franc, the nineteen francs left were the product of labor, and should rightfully be returned to the laborer. Now, in Clermont, where boots were made by pauper labor, the boots sold for ten francs, and the leather in each pair . was worth but fifty centimes. In Clermont, therefore, the rightful share of labor, even if labor had its due, which it never has in this world, was only nine and a half francs ; that is, to labor belonged nine and a half francs on each pair of boots in Clermont, and nineteen francs in Issoire. The lot of the laborer was therefore twice as delightful in Issoire as in Clermont, this difference being due to the beneficent influence of the octroi.
And the Common Council, who were friends of labor, decided that hereafter the price of boots should be twenty francs to work- ingmen, but that nineteen francs of this should be paid as a bounty from the public treasury. But, " always taking out of a meal-bag and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom," as Ben- jamin Franklin once said, and there have been few shrewder ob- servers of French politics than he. One morning, when the treas- urer put his hand in the strong box to get the nineteen francs to pay for one more pair of boots, he found it empty. There were only a bad franc, a fifty-centime note, and half a dozen copper sous and two-centime pieces ; nothing more. He had come to the bottom.
Here was a crisis ! The mayor and the Common Council were called together in haste. The workman, Jacques, who wanted the