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The Story of the Lunar Rogue

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Throughout the winter months, the mad ravings of Henry More Smith continued. He neither spoke nor responded directly to anyone and, by mid February, had taken to sleeping most of the day and then spending the night ranting at an unbelievable volume. The deafening, nightly noise drove the jailer and his family, who lived upstairs over the cell, to distraction but nothing could be done to quiet him. Sheriff Bates, convinced of Henry’s insanity, stated “He could never be surprised into the utterance of one single word or articulate sound, and took no notice of any person or thing or of what was said to him, no more than if he had been a dumb, senseless animal”.

In spite of his apparent insanity, Henry never lost sight of his goal to escape. Henry tossed off Sheriff Bates’ chains and shackles almost as quickly as they were applied. Once the Sheriff reported, “It appeared also that he had been at the grates; but how he got there was a mystery, for the chain by which his legs were bound was unbroken and the staple fast in the timber”. The Sheriff had reason to be anxious and stated, “He had already given such mysterious and astonishing proofs of his strength and invention that I feared he would finally baffle all my ingenuity to prevent his escape”.

Barbara Grantmyre, in her book The Lunar Rogue, states, “Henry had shown many angles, gentleman rogue, pious young man, military hanger-on, loving husband, horse thief, skilful burglar, glib-tongued traveller, strong man, sick man , mad man, and now, on March 1st, he displayed another facet of his character, the artist.” This talent was perhaps the most extraordinary of all.