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Ankou is a folk-tale by Arthur Ransome, set among the peasants of Brittany. First published in 1914 in The English Review it was republished in Coots in the North and other stories in 1988.

Three old Breton men regularly meet on a stone-lidded grave and talk of when one of them will rule the monstrous population of the dead. The Ankou, the last man to die in the year in a parish is the Ankou for the year that follows. He is death personified, and that is the only distinction any of them can attain.

One dies in September, leaving Luch and Yvon; Yvon is the younger by two or three months. They say It is between us two ... one of us. Both hope to be the last to die before the new year, and as Ankou hold the scythe of death for twelve months.

By Christmas they are both growing steadily feebler. On the morning of the last day of the year there is a magpie on old Yvon’s roof; his daughter Marie says he has died and he will be Ankou.

But Luch who had hoped to survive Yvon now realises that he may live till the next day, and be the first to die in the new year instead of the last to die in the old. He would be just one of the unnumbered dead. He grows very weak with the coming of night. When Jeanne who cares for him touches his bloodless old hand and her son Petit-Lurch cries in triumph Daddy Luch is Ankou he thought he was dead. But then he heard the clock strike midnight. The door opens and a cold wind rushed in. Luch suddenly sat up in terror and cries with a hoarse voice Yvon .... Yvon before dropping back dead indeed.