The little cigarette girl

From The Telegraph:

A heartwarming short story set in London the night before Christmas, by Justine Picardie.

Picardie_1211204c It was Christmas Eve in Mayfair, and fairy lights and diamonds sparkled in the shop windows, though night had now fallen, and the last of the shoppers gone home. But the grand hotels and restaurants were still open for business, filled with revellers, who laughed and clinked champagne glasses as if they had no fear of the darkness or doubts about the coming year. Outside the grandest of the restaurants – a place beloved by Hollywood princesses and European countesses and men who were rich beyond the dreams of avarice – stood a little cigarette girl. She was shivering alone in the cold, but the only way for her to earn a few pounds was to wait for the diners who sometimes sauntered onto the pavement to smoke. If they ran out of cigarettes, she stepped forward to sell them a packet, along with a box of matches, and every so often, someone would give her a tip.

The little cigarette girl was from a place even colder than London, and spoke the same language as several of the wealthiest people in the restaurant, though unlike them, she was not cocooned against the winter in glossy mink furs.

More here.