Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, there lived a wealthy king and his beautiful young daughter. As the princess's sixth birthday approached, her doting father wondered what she would like to have as her gift.
"I want the perfect doll," said the little princess, "And I will name her Fortuna. And she will be mine, always, for I have no brothers and sisters to keep me company."
The king sent a message throughout his kingdom, and soon toymakers everywhere were coming to the castle, claiming to have created the perfect doll for the princess. But, although the dolls were beautiful, none were exactly right. As the princess's birthday drew nearer, the king realized that he would have to go out and find the doll himself.
One afternoon, as the king was riding his noble steed through a small fishing village, he was beckoned over by an old woman. "I know that there is something you search for," she whispered to him. "At dawn every morning in this village, the Mermaliera goddess rises from the river and sings. No one except a virgin girl can look upon her without dying, but if you can somehow manage to take a lock of her hair and weave it into a doll's head, then the child to which that doll is given will be blessed forever."
The king thanked her and went to the inn, where he found the innkeeper's unmarried daughter. "If you will go to this Mermaliera and get a lock of hair from her, I will make you the richest girl in the kingdom," he told her, and the maiden eagerly agreed.
Early the next morning, the fair maiden walked to the river, and waited on the bank for the Mermaliera to arise. The goddess's body was covered only by her long, golden hair, and as she rose from the water and sang of the new day, she brushed it free with a dagwood comb. When she noticed the girl watching her, she smiled. "Hello, my virgin daughter. What do you need?"
"If you please, dear Mermie," the maiden stammered, "I would like a lock of your lovely golden hair."
The Mermaliera frowned. "Such an impudent request would normally be ignored, but today, I have dropped my pearl hairbrush into the dark waters and am forced to brush my locks with this dagwood comb instead. If you can dive down and get it for me, and bring it to me tomorrow, then I will offer you a lock of my hair."
The maiden, who was a good swimmer, immediatly dove into the river's murky waters and found the hairbrush, but as she lay it down on the shore and took off her soaking dress, a handsome young man spotted her from the forest and came towards her. In a moment of passion, they embraced eachother, and made love on the riverbank. When they were done, the handsome stranger brushed her hair with the Mermaliera's pearl hairbrush.
The Mermaliera was enraged. "You have made love on my riverbank, and you are no longer clean!" She cried, and flung the maiden into the endless firey depths of the river, never to be seen again.
Later that day, when the King went to search for the maiden, he found the Mermaliera's hairbrush with strands of the girl's hair in it, and he thought that perhaps this was the hair of the Mermaliera. So he took the brush back to his castle and had the strands of hair woven into an ordinary doll, and given to his daughter. When she was older, he gave her the Mermaliera's hairbrush, and she used it every day, never knowing that the brush was what brought her so much luck in life, and not the doll with the ordinary maiden's hair.