Why weren't Beowulf and his men able to stop Grendel's mother from killing Hrothgar's closest friend?

pg 51-57

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Grendel's mother came upon Heorot while Hrothgar's warriors were sleeping after a night of celebration. Beowulf and his men were unable to help the warriors or save Aeschere because Beowulf did not sleep in the hall and wasn't there during the attack.