The Geats march back to the shore and load up their ships. They give a sword with gold fittings to the man who had guarded the ships. Then they set sail from Denmark and arrive safely in Geatland, where they immediately head for Hygelac's stronghold on a cliff. It is a magnificent building, and Hygelac's wife, Hygd, is an ideal queen.
The poet contrasts Hygd, who does what is expected of her, with the story of Queen Modthryrh, who was her opposite. She would condemn , to torture and death a servant who looked at her directly in the face, or any man other than her husband who stared at her. But Modthryrh improved after her marriage to Offa, a king of the Angles. She became famous for her good deeds.
Beowulf and his men arrive at Hygelac's hall. Hygelac greets Beowulf warmly and wants to hear all Beowulf's stories of his travels. He had not wanted Beowulf to go to help the Danes, and dreaded the outcome. So now he is especially glad that Beowulf has returned safely home.
Beowulf tells of what happened after he arrived in Denmark. He has nothing but praise for the hospitality of Hrothgar and his queen. He also mentions Freawaru, Hrothgar's daughter, and her proposed marriage to Ingeld, of the house of Heathobard. The marriage is to pay for the Danes' killing of a prince in a feud, but Beowulf fears that there may still be bloodshed over the matter. He imagines what will happen when the Danes attend the wedding, wearing the spoils they looted after the battle in which the Heathobards were defeated. The young Heathobards will be stirred up, and there will be more deadly violence. The violence will escalate, Ingeld will no longer love his bride and the old feud between Danes and Heathobards will be resumed.
Beowulf then returns to the story of his fight with Grendel. He adds a detail not mentioned before. Grendel had a pouch made out of dragon skins at the ready. He wanted to cram all his victims into it.
Beowulf recalls the gifts bestowed on him, and the feast at Heorot, when a minstrel sang stories accompanied by the harp. Then he recalls Grendel's mother, and how he defeated her. He tells of the extra gifts presented to him, which he now presents to Hygelac. He reveals that the gift of the war-gear indicated Hrothgar's special favor, since it had belonged to his older brother, King Heorogar.
Beowulf then hands over four horses, to the approval of the narrator, who lauds Beowulf for behaving like an ideal prince and kinsman. Beowulf also presents Hygd with the necklace that Wealhtheow had given him, as well as three horses.
The narrator praises Beowulf's character. He is courageous and honorable, the possessor of every virtue. This marks a change in how he had been perceived before his adventures in Denmark. He had then been regarded as a weakling. But this judgment is now reversed.
Hygelac presents Beowulf with a sword and a large amount of land.
The way of life at the court of King Hygelac of the Geats is largely the same that of Hrothgar's Danes. It is the same warrior code, the safe haven of the mead-hall, with the obligations of gift-giving placed on the king; also the loyalty of the warrior to hand over his treasure to the king. the same outbreak of feuds and their violent settlement.
Just as in earlier passages, Heremod was contrasted with Beowulf, this section presents another pairing. Queen Hygd, who fulfils her appointed role to perfection, is contrasted with the failings of Queen Modthryrh.