Days, weeks, months, years Afterwards, when both were wives With children of their own; Their mother-hearts beset with fears, Their lives bound up in tender lives;
Flash forward years later for this stanza. Both Laura and Lizzie are "wives" and have their own children.
Like all mothers, they worry about their kids.
Laura would call the little ones And tell them of her early prime, Those pleasant days long gone Of not-returning time: Would talk about the haunted glen, The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men, Their fruits like honey to the throat But poison in the blood; (Men sell not such in any town): Would tell them how her sister stood In deadly peril to do her good, And win the fiery antidote:
Laura tells their kids all about her own youth, and how she visited the "haunted glen" where the goblins were.
She tells them the whole story. She says that the goblin fruit was so tasty, but was "poison in the blood."
Line 556 is an echo from Line 101. It repeats that "men" don't sell fruit like theirs "in any town."
Laura tells the kids about Lizzie's heroism – how she risked her own life to save Laura.
Then joining hands to little hands Would bid them cling together, "For there is no friend like a sister In calm or stormy weather; To cheer one on the tedious way, To fetch one if one goes astray, To lift one if one totters down, To strengthen whilst one stands."
As Laura repeats the story to her children, she tells them that the moral is that sisters should stick together, because "there is no friend like a sister/ In calm or stormy weather."
Sisters save each other and "strengthen" each other.