This story is rated PG.

Disclaimer: I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no baby.

The sun was but a pale sliver above the horizon as the Chinese junk floated serenely toward the shore. Inside the small watercraft were seated Homer, Marge, Lisa, a Chinese boy wearing a spiky wig, Selma, and Selma's newly adopted baby daughter, Ling.

"I beg of you to take me to America," the lad with the wig pleaded in fractured English. "My family, they are so poor, they have only rice paper to eat. I promise I will be good American capitalist boy."

"Sorry, egg foo youngster," said Homer firmly, "but even if you stay out of trouble, clean your messes, get good grades in school, and be nice to Lisa, we'll never love you as much as we love Bart."

"I promise to do all of those things, and more," said the Chinese boy.

Intrigued, Homer relaxed his grip on the oars.

"I hereby dub thee Bart 2.0," he proclaimed.

"Forget it, Homer," Marge snarled at him.

The small boat pulled up to the harbor, and Selma, cradling her sleepy infant, was the first to step onto the pier. "I say we go back to the hotel," she recommended.

"I think we should go to the police," said Marge.

"I think we should go to Tibet," said Lisa.

"Oh, you just want to join an underground resistance movement," said Homer peevishly.

Lisa shrugged. "Well, it was worth a shot."

Bart had no idea of the time, or his location, or the fact that the rest of his family had departed for home. He could think of nothing but the graceful movements of the Shaolin monks as they practiced their martial arts routines in the midst of a bamboo grove. He breathed shallowly, fearing to move a muscle lest the sensitive ears of the monks should detect his presence.

The half-dozen robed Asians sparred for about ten minutes, then bowed to each other and wandered deeper into the forest. Thinking they might be headed for a secret cave lair, Bart tiptoed rapidly in pursuit. He had followed them to a grassy field dotted with springs of water, when an unwelcome noise reached his ears.


It's Lisa, he thought. She's always trying to spoil my fun. Not this time, sis.

But Bart was out of luck - the monks had heard the shout as well. As they turned and looked at the boy, their faces flashed disapproval.

"You should not be here, little one," one of the monks scolded him with a heavy accent.

"Is very bad if you fall in spring," added another.

"Beware the curse," warned a third.

"Cool," marveled Bart, gazing wistfully at the pools surrounding him. Strolling to the edge of one spring, he bent his knees and stretched out his finger to test the water temperature.

"Stop!" cried a monk, leaping forward. "That is spring of drowned tiger."

Bart smiled wickedly. "You mean there's, like, a tiger skeleton at the bottom? And me without my scuba gear."

Overpowered by curiosity, Bart reached down to untie his shoe just as Lisa ran toward him, followed by Homer, Marge, Selma, and Ling. "Bart, you're okay!" said the girl with delight.

"You shouldn't have run off like that," Marge chided her son. "You could have been killed, or worse."

Bart gave his family a brief glance of acknowledgement, then proceeded to remove his shoes.

"Put your shoes on, boy," Homer ordered. "We're already half an hour late for our flight. We don't want to miss it."

"Aw, Dad, I just wanna wade a little," grumbled Bart as he hiked up his shorts.

Turning clockwise, he spied a particularly attractive spring and walked toward it on his bare feet. "Stop, foolish boy!" cried a monk, trying to grab his arm.

Bart jerked aside to avoid him, lost his balance, toppled backwards, and rolled down an incline into the deep end of the spring. The water seemed to draw him in like a tongue, and was peaceful again within seconds.

"Oh, my Buddha!" exclaimed Lisa. The monks turned to each other and shook their heads sadly.

"Quick, Homer!" Marge urged her husband. "Get him out of there!"

As the fat man trudged determinedly forward, one of the monks stepped into his path. "You cannot save him now," he said ominously. "If you fall in water, you be cursed as well."

Puzzled, Homer stopped abruptly. "Is it a good curse or a bad curse?" he inquired.

"Very bad curse," the monk replied. "In every spring something drowned. If you swim in spring, you turn into last thing that drowned. If you swim in spring of drowned tiger, you turn into tiger. If you swim in spring of drowned panda, you turn into panda."

"Omigosh, he's not coming up!" said Marge with alarm. Indeed, the surface of the water was apparently undisturbed, even by air bubbles.

"Which spring did Bart fall into?" asked Homer.

"Spring of drowned girl," answered the monk.

The Simpsons and Bouviers stared blankly at him.

"Imagine that," said Selma as Ling wriggled in her arms. "Three little Simpsons girls. The Pointer Sisters had better watch out."

Homer began to edge nervously away from the spring as Lisa quickly pulled off her buckle shoes. "I'm already a girl," she observed, "so I have nothing to be afraid of. Hold on, Bart, I'm coming!"

"Be careful, Lisa!" cried Marge as the girl rushed to the water's brink and dove in with a resounding splash.

Seconds passed. Homer, Marge, Selma, and the monks surrounded the spring, watching for signs of life from Bart and Lisa while keeping a safe distance. They could see little through the murky water.

"Don't worry," Marge comforted her anxious husband. "There's no curse. It's all superstitious hocus-pocus."

Homer looked thoughtfully at her. "But all the stuff in the Bible is true, right?" he asked hesitantly.

Marge nodded.

An instant later the surface of the spring broke, and Bart's spiked head emerged.

"He's all right!" said Marge with relief.

Then the rest of Bart's body rose from the water. To the bemusement of all present, he was tightly clad in Lisa's red dress. A pearl necklace was draped around his neck.

"Where's Lisa?" asked Selma.

"I'm right here," replied Bart matter-of-factly.

Homer and Marge shot him startled expressions.

Bart reached behind his back and unfastened his dress zipper. "I'll go back in and look for Bart as soon as I take off my dress," he told the others. "It's shrunk so much, I can't swim in it."

to be continued