Johnny Tremain

why did the elders of boston were reluctant to belive that not a shot had been or would be fired

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the elders of boston were reluctant to belive that because then there will be war and their loved ones (16-30ies) will dies
It is his way of saying that the elders were burying their heads in the sand trying not to believe that war was upon them. But even the little kids are chanting in the streets, "School's done. War's begun."