The officer's first reaction is to simply assume that the boys have just been larking about - it's all 'fun and games'. Even when he realises that the situation is more serious than that - when Ralph informs him that two boys have even been killed - he still responds with a kind of disbelief. He essentially fails to comprehend that boys, particularly British boys, could ever act so savagely. His reference to R.M. Ballantyne's novel The Coral Island, which depicts boys having a carefree and wonderful time when abandoned on an island (in contrast to this novel) underlines this.