On his arrival at St Domingo, the admiral was almost blind with overwatching and fatigue, and hoped there to rest himself and to find peace among the people of the colony; but he found quite the contrary, for all the people of the island were in disorder and rebellion. Great numbers of those whom he had left were dead, and of those who remained above 160 individuals were ill of the French pox; besides that many were in rebellion, with Francis Roldan at their head, whom he had left as alcalde mayor, or chief justice of the island. And to add to the evil, the three ships that he had dispatched from the Canary islands with supplies had not yet arrived. Of all these matters it is requisite that we should treat in an orderly manner, beginning from the time when the admiral had set out from this island for Spain in March 1496, thirty months before his present return.
For some considerable time after his departure, matters went on pretty quietly in hopes of his speedy return and receiving supplies and relief. But after the first year, finding their hopes abortive, the Spanish provisions having utterly failed, and sickness and sufferings increasing, the people began to be much dissatisfied with their situation, and to despair of any change for the better. When any discontented persons begin to utter complaints, they are always sure to find some bold spirit to urge them on, desirous to become the head of a party: Such on this occasion was the conduct of Francis Roldan, a native of Torre de Ximena, whom the admiral had left in great power both among the Christians and Indians, by making him chief judge of the colony, so that he had almost as much power and authority as himself. For this reason it is supposed that there was not that good understanding between him and the admirals lieutenant as ought to have been for the public good, as appeared actually to have been the case in the sequel. And, as the admiral neither returned himself nor sent any supplies, this Roldan began to entertain schemes of usurping the supreme authority in the island, and designed for this purpose to murder the admirals brothers as those who were best able to oppose his rebellion, and actually waited an opportunity of putting this nefarious intention into execution. It happened that the lieutenant went to a province in the west called Xaragua, eighty leagues from Isabella, leaving Roldan in the execution of his employment, but subordinate to Don James the admirals second brother. Roldan was so much offended at this procedure, that while the lieutenant was taking order how the caciques should pay their quotas of the tribute to their Catholic majesties after the rate which had been settled by the admiral, Roldan began underhand to draw over some of the malcontents to his party. But that it might not prove fatal to rise too suddenly and without some colourable pretence, Roldan took hold of the following circumstance to favour his covert practices. The lieutenant had caused a caravel to be built at