Zadock Steele was captured by Mohawk Indians allied with the British in a raid in Vermont in 1780. It was called the Royalton raid. Zadock was transferred to British custody and eventually escapes. Starving, he and a companion are taken in by a “poor widow”. In this short scene he describes over eating what she calls “wheat bread”and that we can understand as a good-quality white bread. One of the forms of control the British exercised over their captives was under feeding so he and his companion approach this bread with avarice. Despite the text’s stiff language one can feel the loss of control, the impulse to gorge.
Having long been without bread of any kind, and being now furnished with a full supply of good wheat bread; it seemed as if we should die with the effect of eating it. It lay like lead in our stomachs, and caused us the most agonizing distress, for some hours; while we rolled upon the floor, with bitter groaning; although we had denied ourselves the satisfaction of eating the half of what our appetites crave. But our extreme hunger prevented the exercise of prudence, and economy, in the choice of that kind of food which was best adapted to our wretched condition. Nor did we wait long to consult about propriety, or impropriety of eating anything we found within our reach. Our avidity for food, however, soon abated, when we found no injuries result from eating all be desired.
Zadock Steele, The Indian Captive; Or, A Narrative of the Captivity and Sufferings of Zadock Steele, H.R. Huntting Company, 1908, p. 150