DEAR ABBY: Heartsick is the only way I can describe how I feel right now. Something very precious to me, an antique doll, has disappeared from its storage place in my bedroom and has been replaced by a similar doll that I have never seen before. The only person besides my husband who knew of its existence was my cousin "Lana." Lana and her husband have been weekend houseguests in our home for several years. A few weeks ago, we let them use our bedroom and we took the guest room.
The other day I went to the chest where I kept the doll, intending to have it appraised, and found something else in its place. I have no solid proof that Lana took it, but the circumstances and family history all point in that direction. You see, the doll was a family heirloom given to me by my aunt 15 years ago.
As far as I'm concerned, the relationship between my cousin and me has been seriously affected. What should be my next step? -- HEARTSICK IN N.C.
DEAR HEARTSICK: Call Cousin Lana and tell her what you have told me. Perhaps she was upset that the heirloom doll wasn't given to her, or assumed that you wouldn't know the difference if another doll was substituted. Ask her to please return the original.
If she is unwilling to cooperate, you could report the theft to the police and fill out a stolen property report. However, you should be aware that, unless the doll is valuable, petty thefts are not a high priority for police departments.