Nestled between her parents on the living room couch, fiddling with the yellow hospital identification tag around her wrist, Lindsay Michelle Saxon shows no sign of the trauma her family has endured.
"He came up and took me," the bashful, blond 6-year-old explains simply.
But her mother and father, Jean and Daniel W. Saxon, cannot forget the agonizing three-hour wait for news of their daughter after she was kidnapped Sunday afternoon from the playground at Point Pleasant Elementary School in Glen Burnie.
"I couldn't stand still. I couldn't sit still," a much-relieved Mrs. Saxon recalled yesterday. "It was absolutely devastating . . . a nightmare. I thought, 'What was happening to her? Will we ever see her again? How was he treating her?' "
In a family where children were carefully instructed from an early age never to talk to a stranger, who could have expected such a thing 2 1/2 blocks from home?
"I've never heard anything like it in my life," said Mr. Saxon, 40, a naval reservist who was on his way back from a weekend training assignment in Dahlgren, Va., when his daughter was first reported missing.
The ordeal began when Lindsay, her sister Danielle, 9, and friend Jamie Jones, also 9, were approached by a stranger in the playground. The man, whom police have described as white, in his mid-30s, of medium height and medium build and with a mustache, grabbed Lindsay and carried her to his car as she struggled in his arms.
It ended not long after the kidnapper's car, a green 1979 Dodge Volare, apparently bogged down in mud on a dirt road near Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Abandoning the car, Lindsay and her abductor walked several miles on foot, winding up on Furnace Avenue near Elkridge, when the youngster asked use a bathroom.
According to witnesses, Lindsay approached a female bicyclist for directions to a restroom and the woman escorted her to the Ellicott Furnace Inn, a late 18th-century lodge at the corner of Race Road that is undergoing restoration.
Inside, the first-grader met Thomas J. Johnson of Columbia, who was helping the inn's owners, Patti and Steve Wecker, with the restoration project, and he took her across the street to the Wecker's home.
Without any prompting, Lindsay told the grown-ups what had happened to her, remembering such details as the name of her school and even her kidnapper's attire. They quickly called the police.
Though obviously very scared, "she seemed real resilient," Mr. Johnson marveled yesterday. "She seemed to know she was going to be OK."
Their daughter returned to them early Sunday evening by county police, the Saxons are grateful to the hundreds of law enforcement officials, neighbors, family members and friends who helped search for their child or comfort them in their despair.
"Our neighbors were wonderful. Every member of our family who could be here was here," said Mrs. Saxon, 45, whose relatives include four older children, seven grandchildren "and two more on the way."
In interviews with police and with the medical staff at North Arundel Hospital, Lindsay has said that the man did not touch her. She showed no outward signs of abuse. Her hair was not mussed, and her shoe laces were still neatly tied.
The youngster has told her parents that her abductor was a "bad man," Mrs. Saxon said, probably because he didn't take her home to her mother as he promised at some point.
Nor did he fulfill promises to take her to a shopping mall or take her photograph, she said.
But the experts have informed the family that Lindsay has not yet shown the tears and emotional upset they should eventually expect. There is also concern that Danielle, who watched her sister's kidnapping helplessly, may also have been scarred by the incident.
"We always tried not to be overly protective, not being with them every second . . . hovering over them all the time," said Mrs. Saxon. "Now, some of the rules are going to have to be changed."
Both Mr. and Mrs. Saxon are employed as printers -- he in the state legislature's bill-printing shop and she with a private firm in Bowie. For the first time in their 13 years living in the aptly named subdivision of "Suburbia," the Saxons say, they feel threatened by the world beyond their four-bedroom, ranch-style home.
So do many of the neighbors. Already, callers from local Girl Scout and Brownie troops have told the couple they plan to have the police lecture their members about safety.
At Point Pleasant Elementary, guidance counselors met with some classes to discuss personal safety. Principal Evelyn Reed sent a newsletter home with children to let parents know that police officers will be on guard at the school beginning at 2:30 p.m. each day until the kidnapper is caught.
"A lot of parents took their kids to school today. They were concerned about letting the kids out for recess," said Debbie Bennett, a teacher's aide. "This is a little close to home."
Bruce Webber, a neighbor with a daughter at Point Pleasant, said he has talked to "a lot of uneasy parents" who will not longer leave their children alone at the playground.
In the Saxon household, the sense of relief over that very fact is palpable.
After a day of pampering and attention yesterday -- dinner at a local pizzeria and frequent hugs and kisses from grandmother Hester Hardy -- Lindsay is expected back at school today.
As for Lindsay's parents, life remains a bit unsettled. The telephone rings almost constantly, most of the calls from well-wishers. Even reading about the incident is painful for Mrs. Saxon who started crying over a newspaper article yesterday morning.
"What would have happened if he [the kidnapper] hadn't gotten stuck in the mud?" said Mr. Saxon. "That's the kind of thing you really think about."