"But at that point, having got into bed, he drifted off to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night, though, he woke up and in the silence almost seemed to hear a voice chanting in his ear, "Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep and doesn't know where to find it. Call on Sherlock Holmes." That was what Bo-Peep said as reported by miss Waggoner.
However - forgetting the mysterious suggestion to call on Sherlock Holmes - the line was wrong. The real Mother Goose line, as Bob remembered it, went, "Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep and doesn't know where to find them."
But the parrot named Bo-Peep didn't say them, it said it.
Somehow, Bob had a feeling Jupe was going to find that important.
"Mmm," Jupiter twisted his round face into a mask of thoughtful
concentration. "You're right, Bob, Miss Waggoner definitely reported
that her parrot said, '... doesn't know where to find where to find it." Now of course, the sheep is both singular and plural, so either it or them is correct. However-"
"Never mind all the educated talk!" Pete groaned. "What does it mean?"
The three boys were gathered in Headquarters, the following morning. It was a few minutes before ten o'clock, at which time they hoped for some results from the Ghost-to-Ghost Hookup they had put into effect the night before. Meanwhile, they were discussing Bob's discovery.
"Of course," Bob put in now,"it could just be a mistake. The Englishman who taught the parrots didn't remember the line correctly."
"Correction," Jupiter said. "Billy Shakespeare stuttered. That could be called a mistake. Little Bo-Peep speaks her line from Mother Goose incorrectly. That makes two mistakes."
"How many is two." Pete asked impatiently. "I make a lot more than two mistakes every time I turn in a theme at school."
"Quite true," Jupiter agreed. "But in this case we feel sure the two parrots were taught by a well-educated Englishman. One mistake could be an accident. Two mistakes suggest purpose."
"Purpose?" Pete's face looked blank, and Bob didn't blame him. It wasn't always easy to follow Jupiter Jones's thinking. Sometimes his brain seemed to take short cuts.
"You mean it's just as easy to teach a parrot to say something correctly as it is to teach him to say something incorrectly?" Bob suggested. "So there's some special reason why Billy Shakespeare stutters and Little Bo-Peep says, it not them?"
"Exactly," Jupiter said. "First we have the peculiar mystery of why Mr. Claudius should go round stealing parrots. Thern we have the new mystery of why the parrots were taught their strange speeches incorrectly to begin with."
"It beats me." Bob shook his head. "Why teach these parrots such lines anyway? Most people are satisfied if a parrot says, "Polly wants a cracker.'"
"The mystery deepens as we explore it," Jupiter said. His face had that look of real satisfaction which only came when he knew he had a good, tough puzzle - something he could sink his teeth into.
"Teaching the parrots took a great deal of patience," he went on. "Whoever did it had some purpose in mind. We don't know what that purpose was. However, I suspect that Mr. Claudius does know, and that's the reason he stole the two parrots."
"Whiskers!" Bob said. "Maybe there are a lot more parrot in this than just Billy and Bo-Peep. Remember the one named Blackbeard the pedlar hadn't sold, and how excited Mr. Claudius became when he heard about it?"
"Oh, no!" Pete groaned. "If two parrots can make us feel so bird-brained, think what a lot more would do to us!"
Ordinarily they would have laughed. But just at that moment the phone rang.[...]
The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot, Robert Arthur.