Assepoesters are shades of young poor children, abused by their stepmothers. They linger behind hearthstones or within the ashtray of a fireplace. Sometimes when they sigh, it causes the ashes to float up. It is quite likely the word has been bastardized from "Asophoester", which describes someone coughing up ashes. Perhaps the true meaning of the word was forgotten after Assepoester became the widely known Dutch translation for a folk tale that was put onto paper by Italian writer Giambattista Basile. That story is better known in English as Cinderella.