Maugham’s in a different flashback now—when Ashenden is living in London and almost twenty-one, coming across the author and his wife. I think there’s even an Of Human Bondage reference, with Ashenden saying “I don’t mind” to the author’s wife (the “Mildred Rogers” stand-in). It’s a short chapter, sort of pointless. It establishes the flashback setting, then promises something more in the immediate future. It’s something Maugham’s done a few times in Cakes and Ale and I’ve just assumed it’s because of the serialization origin. I can’t remember him doing it in Narrow Corner; The Summing Up might have had similar structuring but since it’s non-fiction, it works differently. Especially since these short establishing chapters don’t even with any oomph. They’re just over, promising something interesting next time.