(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The war in Europe is recently over. Sergeant Norman Seeger and his friends, having survived the Normandy invasion at Omaha Beach and the capture of Strasbourg from the Germans, are struggling to collect enough money to enjoy their weekend passes to Paris. Olson and the taciturn Welch hold Seeger in considerable esteem. Seeger has won the Purple Heart at Saint Lo and, despite his youth, Olson affectionately refers to him as “Mon vieux.” Likewise, both Olson and Welch call him “Sir”; they know that Seeger’s noncommissioned status does not warrant the title but believe that his experience and valor do. A remark by Olson reveals that Seeger has saved the lives of his comrades. When a young second lieutenant who is obviously untested by battle passes the three friends, Olson stares him down and offers no salute. It is thus that the two “kids” in the threesome put their trust in Seeger to get a loan against their late pay from Captain Taney.

When Seeger can only put together two hundred francs, the three men are at a loss to locate adequate funds, until Welch remembers that Luger pistols taken from German soldiers are going at nearly premium prices; he can get sixty-five dollars for Seeger’s Luger if Seeger will part with it. Both young men recognize that Seeger may not want to surrender the pistol, but they cannot appreciate the value of the Luger to Seeger, who took it from an SS major whom he killed at close quarters in Coblenz....

(The entire section is 530 words.)