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This is an old SF short story in some collection I read a few decades ago. To the best of my recollection, it's about an anthropologist who's tracing the origin of an invasive civilization that's trying to convert the galaxy to its religion. The punch line is that in the ruins of a museum on the world of origin, he finds a teddy bear, cross-eyed, and realizes the bear's name is "Gladly."

No, this question isn't a troll -- that's my memory of the story. I'm aware of the awful pun; the point of the story was apparently that when you dig into the past, you don't always like what you find.

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  • That's a really, really old joke. I thought it was really funny when I was seven. Mar 13, 2012 at 17:06
  • Is there any chance this is a children's story?
    – Tango
    Mar 13, 2012 at 17:07
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    Sounds like a shaggy dog story. Is this another troll?
    – Martha
    Mar 13, 2012 at 17:09
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    Actually, someone else on a message board agrees that there was a sci-fi work meeting this description, so it may be true. Mar 13, 2012 at 17:41
  • The only thing I came up with was the fact that it's a mondegreen. Mar 13, 2012 at 20:23

1 Answer 1

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There is a sacred relic consisting of a cross-eyed bear called Gladly in The Patterns of Chaos by Colin Kapp, but it doesn't really fit your description apart from that.

The relevant text is:

Behind the dais was a shield emblazoned with the sun-disc symbol of Ashur, and centrally in the shield, nailed cruciform, hung the sacred relic -- a replica of a small, brown, furry quadruped. Around the shield hypnotic stereo-colour tablets spelled out the single word:

GLADLY

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  • Yup, I pulled out Patterns of Chaos from my library and there GLADLY was! The Onaris Christians, the Destroyers, all of them. Thanks! Kapp was an interesting writer; his "Transfinite Man" is on my all-time-best list. Mar 13, 2012 at 19:34

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