THE OCTROI AT IS SO IRK 445
a franc per pound, and the sheep went in as mutton, paying five francs. It was, therefore, cheaper to take a sheep to pieces outside of the city gate rather than within.
Again, there was a curious complication in the matter of boot- jacks, a humble article of domestic use, manufactured in the little village of Jonas, just mentioned. If these were sent in as house- hold furniture, each paid a franc, while, as wooden-ware, the charge was fifty centimes.
With the millstone-trade the results were even more remark- able. One of the chief articles of export from Issoire, in its early days, was the stone used in flouring-mills. In the lower part of the city, close to the river Couze, there is an extensive quarry of a coarse, hard sandstone, most excellent for milling purposes. It had long been a saying with Issoire people, " We send Clermont the wheat, and the stones to grind it." The Issoire millstones were not inferior to those quarried in Cantal, and, the distance from Clermont being much less, the Issoire millstone-cutters had almost a monopoly of the Clermont trade.
In the early days of the octroi, however, the wagons which had formerly brought over manufactured goods in exchange for millstones were obliged to go to Issoire empty. Thus their own- ers had to charge for one trip almost the former price of two. This increased cost of transportation brought down the price of millstones in Issoire, for the competition of the quarries of Cantal made it impossible to raise the price at Clermont. To do that would be to divert the trade of the Clermont mill-owners entirely to Cantal. In such cases, the prices for the whole region must be governed by the price at the center of trade. The profits of the Issoire quarry were thus materially reduced. The owners talked of reducing the wages of their employes, but this they could not do, for the wages were already at the lowest point at which effect- ive service could be secured. The natural remedy lay in an appeal to the octroi. The Council levied five centimes per kilogramme on all millstones brought into Issoire. Some of the Council thought this levy an absurdity, for not a single millstone had ever been imported. The old proverb as to " carrying coals to Newcastle " was intended to cover just such cases. But the mayor told them to wait and see, and the result showed his far-seeing wisdom. The quarry-owners doubled their home prices, while the octroi pre- served them from loss through outside competition. Then fol- lowed one of those curious surprises which lend such zest to the study of French economic problems. The price of millstones at the quarry in Issoire was nearly double the price of the same mill- stones in Clermont, whither they were carried by salesmen from Issoire. After a time Issoire mill-owners began to send to Cler- mont for millstones, instead of buying them at home. It was