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"Sea Of Upturned Faces"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Francis Obaldistone quarrels with his father, a prosperous London merchant, and goes to visit cousins in Scotland. There he meets a scoundrelly cousin, Rashleigh, who departs to take Frank's place in the London firm, and another cousin, Diana Vernon, with whom he falls in love. However, he leaves her when he learns that Rashleigh is ruining his father's business. Hastening to Glasgow to find his father's chief clerk, Frank attends a worship service where he searches with his eyes for the clerk among the congregation:

. . . I next strained my eyes, with equally bad success, to see if, among the sea of up-turned faces which bent their eyes on the pulpit as a common centre, I could discover the sober and business-like physiognomy of Owen.