Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/135

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121
A FEW IRISH CENTRES.

£4: up to £8 per acre. The persons carrying on this industry are, as might be guessed, of Irish birth or descent, and their judgment and skill in the conduct of the business is remarkable. Before offering for a lease of any land, they have an intimate knowledge of the quality and depth of every yard of soil in the field, and what crop they may expect on an average season." An eye-witness has given an interesting description of one of these sales of annual leases for potato land. "The whole assemblage," he says, "with the exception of the auctioneers and one or two others who, like myself, are simply present from a feeling of curiosity, are dressed in their work-a-day clothes, but under these well-worn coats there are some deep pockets, as the subsequent proceedings testify. Meeting an acquaintance in the crowd, an old resident in the locality, I remarked that there was a poor prospect of a satisfactory sale, as the appearance of the crowd certainly indicated no plethora of cash. He shook his head, and in a whisper remarked, 'There will be high prices given to-day, they are all so quiet—that means business,' and, pointing to one individual in the crowd, who apparently was more likely to be an applicant for admission to the benevolent asylum than a purchaser of land at extreme rates, he remarked, 'that man, poor as he looks, is worth thousands, and, take them all round, I believe they are worth more man for man than the same number selected indiscriminately at one of your town sales:' and the result, as far as the prices realised were concerned, justified his prediction. A few minutes afterwards a well-appointed buggy and pair drove up, containing the burly and genial form of the senior partner in a leading Warrnambool firm, who, after exchanging cheery greetings with the assemblage, to whom he was evidently well known, at once commenced