Snarklings versus the Snarkometer, #36
The fire that warmed Tobias' cottage provided barely enough light for Honora to see the stylized knot in the seal of the packet she held. Under other circumstances, she might have asked him to light a rush light so she could make a more thorough inspection, but the rope maker seemed nervous tonight, constantly glancing toward the windows and twitching at every little sound. Somehow, she didn't think the request would be met with much enthusiasm.
You're telling it here, not showing. Consider: the rope maker glanced toward the window repeatedly, twitched at the smallest sound. See the difference? Use the story to show us how they are, rather than telling us.
The light was enough to see that the outer layer of parchment bore no address and only a few cryptic markings in the lower right hand corner, likely some form of code. She had never made an effort to find out and felt she was better off not knowing. Her complicity in treason was deep enough already; she didn't need to compound the matter.
"The oil cloth itself wasn't sealed again," Tobias complained. "If they keep doing this, my lad...sir, I'm not certain my associates will be willing to continue."
Ok, this is interesting. Tobias thinks Honora is a man, but you're using "she". That intriques me a bit.
"Your 'associates' are smugglers who are paid well for their work," Honora reminded him. "If this is an attempt to ask for more money..."
The older man looked offended. "Have I once taken coin for this work? In five years, have I ever asked for recompense? I believe in the King's cause. The others, though, they fear what would happen if they should be caught. Smuggling will land them in prison, but if they are suspected of knowing what is in these packets, they will hang. Your contacts in France grow sloppy and there's the truth of it."
You're working in a well developed and populated field here. How many books have we all read about smugglers, treason, and kings? Zillions. The form is hundreds of years old and what worked for Alexander Dumas, or even Antonia Fraser isn't going to work for you cause we've seen them do it already.
You're going to have to show me something really outstanding and different to get me past page one. So far, this isn't it.