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Thread: Bonus

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    #1

    Bonus

    I was reading the following passage from Mark Twain's "The man that corrupted Hadleyburg,"

    The days drifted along, and the bill of future squanderings rose higher and higher, wilder and wilder, more and more foolish and reckless. It began to look as if every member of the nineteen would not only spend his whole forty thousand dollars before receiving-day, but be actually in debt by the time he got the money. In some cases light-headed people did not stop with planning to spend, they really spent—on credit. They bought land, mortgages, farms, speculative stocks, fine clothes, horses, and various other things, paid down the bonus, and made themselves liable for the rest—at ten days. Presently the sober second thought came, and Halliday noticed that a ghastly anxiety was beginning to show up in a good many faces. Again he was puzzled, and didn’t know what to make of it. “The Wilcox kittens aren’t dead, for they weren’t born; nobody’s broken a leg; there’s no shrinkage in mother-in-laws; nothing has happened—it is an insolvable mystery.”
    I have a couple of questions.

    1. I know that to mortgage a property (most popular a house) is to sign a contract with a bank where you commit to pay monthly payments until you get to own the property.
    My question, though, is what does Twain mean when he says to buy a mortgage? Does he mean that these people bought properties that are mortgaged from the banks and that they would be receiving the monthly payment instead of the bank?
    I think we can replace bank with a "second party."

    2. Bonus, as I came to understand it long ago, means "extra." A bonus on the wage, a bonus question, etc. How do you pay the bonus on a purchase you made? It would have made more sense to me if Twain said "made a down payment and made themselves liable for the rest." I checked the etymology of the word bonus, but it came back giving me the same meaning that I understand, namely "extra." The only thing that made sense was a site that gave the meaning as a premium, but that is for insurance, and it is not what we have here, at least as far as I can see.
    One thing that might work would be bonus as meaning interest. In this case these people have made a payment of their future interest on their properties to be, but no dictionary backs this up.

    I appreciate any help from your part.

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    #2

    Re: Bonus

    Buying a mortgage is purchasing the side of the contract that receives payments. As long as the mortgagee continues to pay, you receive the income; if the mortgagee defaults, you can foreclose on the loan and gain ownership of the property.

    I don't know what bonus meant in Twain's passage. The phrase doesn't make sense in modern English.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #3

    Re: Bonus

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    Buying a mortgage is purchasing the side of the contract that receives payments. As long as the mortgagee continues to pay, you receive the income; if the mortgagee defaults, you can foreclose on the loan and gain ownership of the property.

    I don't know what bonus meant in Twain's passage. The phrase doesn't make sense in modern English.
    Thank you GoesStation. That was exactly my understanding. I think it is the same meaning even in the days of Twain.

    I totally agree with you on bonus. It just didn't make any sense to me. Hopefully someone will see its meaning and reply.

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    #4

    Re: Bonus

    In context, "bonus" seems to mean something like "down payment."

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