Sylvain had been born in England, the product of a Lord Barnesby and the obliging nursemaid of that Lord's first son. He had never know his half-brother Milton because Milton had been sent to public school at the age of seven, and shortly after his tenth birthday, Sylvain and his obliging mum had been shipped off to the colonies in deepest darkest Africa, where a friend of Lady Barnesby required the services of a nanny for her twins. Lord Barnesby, having died earlier that year, had very little to say on the matter, and so Sylvain had been educated and raised in Kenya, assisted by the very generous sum of money allotted to Sylvain's mum by Lord Barnesby's last will and testament. The money was only a sore point for Lady Barnesby, who had fought tooth and nail to rescind that particular portion of the will and lost. She regarded it as a matter of principle that the hired help should not receive such an inordinate sum, having not the wisdom or experience in financial matters to handle it responsibly. She even went so far as to - kindly and concernedly - offer to set up a trust account which would pay what amounted to a monthly salary to the other woman each month.
"Like pocket money!" Sylvain's mum had spat in disbelief.
Needless to say, the offer was firmly - and kindly - refused, without reserve or exception. After that, Lady Barnesby's suggestion that Sylvain's mum remove to Kenya to "do" for a friend of hers, as a personal favour was taken up and they found themselves installed in a large colonial-style house just outside of Nairobi. Sylvain's mum had "done" for Lady Tillbury until she had had enough of the woman's attitude and then, being a woman of her own means, she bought the old colonial in which they stayed and began to grow roses. She grew roses of such magnificent hues and sizes and shapes that she eventually turned her skill towards business. Unfortunately, none of what Lord Barnesby had intimated to her about managing one's money could have prepared her for what would happen next.
A man by the name of Smith had acquired a number of specimens, and by some wonder of social networking had managed to acquire patents for said specimens. He then approached Sylvain's mum, who was nearing her twilight years, and threatened to sue her for every single penny she owned if he did not receive a fairly hefty royalty for every rose bush sold. This of course was extortion and could have been dealt with via the law, but Sylvain's mum, not knowing her legal options, had simply been cowed into eventually giving over almost all of her money to Smith until she died of heart failure a few years later.
Sylvain had been in the navy from the age of eighteen. He had seen his mum grow old and tired and then rejuvenated by her flowers, and although he was happy for her and relieved that she had finally found something in life which gave her happiness since the death of his father, he felt that flowers were not a manly pursuit, and he sought out the greater world, and his place in it. He had been introduced to the shores of South Africa in his travels with the British Navy on the HMS Grace, and had fallen in love with the long stretches of mountain range and the power and drama of the summer storms. When Sylvain learned of his mother's death, he was guilt-ridden that he had not been there to avert disaster. He had not received any knowledge of his mother's tribulations because she had chosen not to tell him, knowing it would bring him back and away from what he loved.
So after his mum's death, Sylvain had discovered from her workers and friends what had transpired, and had gone about ruining Smith, in a very legal and long-lasting way. Smith ended his years of failing health and eventual prostate cancer with a less literal pain in the ass, that of sequestration and bankruptcy. Sylvain had made a few good friends in the navy, many of whom had gone on to become fairly important people in their chosen fields; bankers, attorneys and judges, politicians and entrepreneurs, all of whom held him in high esteem as a good man in a storm, and who were only too pleased to do a minor favour for him here and there.
Following his success at avenging his dear mum, Sylvain had found he needed something more to fill his heart. Regular visits to his priest, confessions and counselling had produced a deep faith in Sylvain, and the belief that all of God's creations were His own, and so the legal ownership of said creation by patent or otherwise was an offence to Him. Sylvain took it upon himself to right those wrongs where he saw the possibility. Anyone who stood in his way found themselves in a downward spiral which somehow only managed to improve when they let up on the idea of patent ownership.
This is why Joyful was unwittingly wise to reserve comment, and why his business had flourished as well as it had. Joyful only suspected vaguely how strongly Sylvain felt about that particular subject, and would never understand how badly wrong it could have gone - and could still go - with any other reaction to Sylvain's evident eccentricity. Of course, Sylvain had yet to tackle the big fish, such as Pannar and Monsanto, who maintained high profit margins and a stranglehold on the seed market for staples such as maize. Friends and family alike knew that to introduce the topic in Sylvain's presence at any time would induce a purple-faced and frothy monologue about the crimes unpunished and deeds ignored, and how one day, they would be made to understand how damaging they were to the small farmer and his livelihood. This of course, when spiced with a liberal intake of gin or sherry, would dwindle gradually into sullen mutterings and the occasional piece of crystal hurled across the room. Aside from this small and ultimately forgivable feature, Sylvain was to the people who counted a lovable old man, rich, eccentric and who managed somehow to hide the more alarming symptoms of his psychosis.