The mother asks her son to explain the blood on his sword. He says it's his hound's, then his mare's, then his hunting hawk's, then confesses that he has killed his brother John. He will go away in a bottomless boat and will never return.
Words and music transcribed in School of Scottish Studies. 10 verses.
See: 'Scotish (sic) Songs' vol. 2 (Ritson, 1794, 1869) pp. 480-482 'The Scottish Ballads' (Chambers, 1829) pp. 326-328 'Ballads of Scotland' vol. 2 (Aytoun, 1858) pp. 18-20