The Third Ingredient (Henry)

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The Third Ingredient
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A woman who has been recently fired from her job forms an unlikely friendship with a struggling artist, and together they make a beef stew with the only ingredient they have - an onion.

Hetty Pepper, a shop-girl, was fired from her job at the department store and returned to her small room in the Vallambrosa Apartment-House with only fifteen cents in her purse. She decided to make a beef stew for dinner, but realized she had no potatoes or onions. Hetty went to the hallway sink to get water for her stew and met Cecilia, a miniature-painter who lived in the building.

Hetty Pepper — recently fired shop-girl; resourceful, caring.
Cecilia — struggling artist; hungry and hopeful.

Cecilia was also struggling financially and only had potatoes for dinner. The two women decided to combine their ingredients and make a stew together, but they still wished they had an onion.

"Child," said Hetty, letting a brief smile soften her rigid features, "Fate has sent me and you together."

While Hetty was in the hallway, she encountered a young man who had an onion. She convinced him to join them for dinner and contribute his onion to the stew.

The Young Man — struggling and hungry; owns an onion.

The young man revealed that he had a cold and his mother always made him eat onions to help with it. He also mentioned that he had saved a girl from drowning in the North River a few days prior.

"I never said I did," retorted the young man, heatedly. "I said I had nothing else to eat where I live."

Hetty realized that the girl he saved was Cecilia and sent the young man into her room to reunite with her. As the two got to know each other, Hetty prepared the stew with the onion, reflecting on how they had all come together to help each other in their time of need.