The pest controllers

In the city above the clouds it is a great thing to be an eagle-keeper. They need courage, persistence and no short supply of fingers; they are not handsomely paid, but lodge in the aviary and wake to views of the world.

After fifteen years’ service they are granted retirement, a horse and a ring marked with the black bird. From edge to edge, across the lands, the sign is known; it would be a brave innkeeper who refused the ring-bearer lodgings or held back his best beer.

And so the rat-catchers are free, and the city spreads its wings.