It seems that the task undertaken by Philip—that of watching over his friend’s sweetheart—is a familiar one in the Isle of Man, and he who discharges it is known by a familiar name.
“They call him the Dooiney Molla—literally, the ‘man-praiser’; and his primary function is that of an informal, unmercenary, purely friendly and philanthropic match-maker, introduced by the young man to persuade the parents of the young woman that he is a splendid fellow, with substantial possessions or magnificent prospects, and entirely fit to marry her. But he has a secondary function, less frequent, though scarcely less familiar; and it is that of a lover by proxy, or intended husband by deputy, with duties of moral guardianship over the girl while the man himself is off ‘at the herrings,’ or away ‘at the mackerel,’ or abroad on wider voyages.”
And now, of course, begins Philip Christian’s ordeal: for Kitty discovers that she loves him and not Pete, and he that he loves Kitty madly. On the other hand there is the imperative duty to keep faith with his absent friend; and more than this. His future is full of high hope; the eyes of his countrymen and of the Governor himself are beginning to fasten on him as the most promising youth in the island; it is even likely that he will be made Deemster, and so win back all the position that his father threw away. But to marry Kitty—even if he can bring himself to break faith with Pete—will be to marry beneath him, to repeat his father’s disaster, and estrange the favor of all the high “society” of the island. Therefore, even when the first line of resistance is broken down by a report that Pete is dead, Philip determines to cut himself free from the temptation. But the girl, who feels that he is slipping away from her, now takes fate into her own hands. It is the day of harvest-home—the “Melliah”—on her father’s farm. Philip has come to put an end to her hopes, and she knows it. The “Melliah” is cut and the usual frolic begins: