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The coloured sections highlight fragments of this rather odd tale, and enable us to form the hypothesis that it has been created by loosely stringing together small segments, some of which have been coloured in for reasons we hope to discern.
On further inspection, it seems as though each highlighted segment acts as a clue for some word. A few seem reasonably clear: To bet on the result of a race is to GAMBLE, a mouthful of water indicates GARGLING, a fictional World War I ace is probably BIGGLES, unmarried is SINGLE, etc. A pattern is forming: With a little interpretation, it looks like we are getting a series of words that are each six-letters long and end in -LE.
Following through on this idea, we see that there are also many such clues that are not highlighted. Solving enough of the clues reveals that we have a word ladder, where a single letter changes at each step. This realisation helps to sort out some unclear answers, and we can find the complete list to be:
|A man is agilely||NIMBLE|
|a racehorse's leg, disabling it||NOBBLE|
|and causing it to teeter||WOBBLE|
|and make turkey sounds.||GOBBLE|
|Meanwhile, the chatter||GABBLE|
|of an unruly crowd||RABBLE|
|in the ruined stadium||RUBBLE|
|merges into a low growl||RUMBLE|
|as they meander about||RAMBLE|
|and bet on the result of the race,||GAMBLE|
|which is being announced incoherently||GARBLE|
|due to the announcer's mouthful of water.||GARGLE|
|A group of geese||GAGGLE|
|are being passionately bartered||HAGGLE|
|as the geese move their tails||WAGGLE|
|and the crowd vibrate||WIGGLE|
|their scarf ties||WOGGLE|
|as they stare||GOGGLE|
|The man (once a fictional World War I ace)||BIGGLE|
|shakes his leg||JIGGLE|
|to a ditty||JINGLE|
|as an unmarried||SINGLE|
|Australian fashion model's||BINGLE|
|and is carefully manipulated||WANGLE|
|by her to clatter metallically||JANGLE|
|in a tropical forest,||JUNGLE|
|but it catastrophically fails||BUNGLE|
|and they tie it with the others||BUNDLE|
|in a circular pit of crushed ore||BUDDLE|
|in a confused fashion,||FUDDLE|
|and mix up||MUDDLE|
|in the centre of the pit||MIDDLE|
|using a violin||FIDDLE|
|that had been cunningly stolen,||DIDDLE|
|just to waste the hours away.||PIDDLE|
|They hawk the violin||PEDDLE|
|in a pool of water||PUDDLE|
|but something smells bad||CURDLE|
|so they jump over a fence||HURDLE|
|and rush down a hill||HURTLE|
|in order to perform another con,||HUSTLE|
|for which they must stop her dress from dragging at the back||BUSTLE|
|and making soft crackling sounds.||RUSTLE|
Explanations for some of those answers:
Now there is the task of extracting meaning from these words. A first guess would be that we should get a word from each colour, arising via extraction of a letter from each answer. Each word in a word ladder is formed by changing one letter from the previous word, so there are two special letters associated to each (except the first and last, but neither of those are relevant here since they are not coloured): The letter that is different from the previous word, and the letter that is different from the following word. We probably want one of these, or perhaps both.
Looking at just the orange words first, if we use the letters that differ from the previous words then we get WAIIJSWJDC. That does not seem at all promising! Trying instead the letters that differ from the following words gives WRIGGSWADD. That is not entirely sensible, but not complete nonsense either. Applying this to the other colours produces the following strings (choosing rainbow ordering for the colours):
It would be easy to think this was incorrect and move on to another approach, but a closer look reveals a thematic connection: Each item gives one or two word fragments that can make words by appending -LE to them. Doing so gives us the words WRIGGLE SWADDLE; AMBLE ABLE; HOBBLE FEEBLE; and RIDDLE.
It is the last of these that gives the game away; the words are describing the three stages of man in the famous riddle of the Sphinx: Crawling as a baby (WRIGGLE SWADDLE); walking as a man (AMBLE ABLE); and using a walking stick in old age (HOBBLE FEEBLE). The references to a man in both the puzzle title and the start of the story are now understood within this context.
To solve the puzzle we must answer its question of "Who am I?" The answer is the person who met the man of the title and related this tale, the asker of the riddle itself: THE SPHINX. We also accepted SPHINX.
During final retesting of this puzzle, we discussed also accepting LE SPHINX as an answer, but decided this was just too facetious...