• A nunnery.
    Enter ISABELLA and FRANCISCA

    ISABELLA

    And have you nuns no farther privileges?

    FRANCISCA

    Are not these large enough?

    ISABELLA

    Yes, truly; I speak not as desiring more;
    But rather wishing a more strict restraint
    5Upon the sisterhood, the votarists of Saint Clare.

    LUCIO

    [Within] Ho! Peace be in this place!

    ISABELLA

    Who’s that which calls?

    FRANCISCA

    It is a man’s voice. Gentle Isabella,
    Turn you the key, and know his business of him;
    10You may, I may not; you are yet unsworn.
    When you have vow’d, you must not speak with men
    But in the presence of the priore
    Then, if you speak, you must not show your face,
    Or, if you show your face, you must not speak.
    15He calls again; I pray you, answer him.
    Exit

    ISABELLA

    Peace and prosperity! Who is’t that calls
    Enter LUCIO

    LUCIO

    Hail, virgin, if you be, as those cheek-roses
    Proclaim you are no less! Can you so stead me
    As bring me to the sight of Isabella,
    20A novice of this place and the fair sister
    To her unhappy brother Claudio?
  • A nunnery.
    ISABELLA and FRANCISCA enter.

    ISABELLA

    And so you nuns have no other privileges?

    FRANCISCA

    Aren’t these enough?

    ISABELLA

    Oh, yes. I didn’t mean I wanted more freedom. Actually, I wish there were even more restrictions on the Saint Claire sisterhood.

    LUCIO

    (offstage) Hello! Peace to this place!

    ISABELLA

    Who’s that?

    FRANCISCA

    It’s a man’s voice. Isabella, unlock the door and ask him what he wants. I can’t, but you can, since you haven’t taken your vows yet. Once you have, you’ll only be able to speak with men in the presence of the Mother Superior. Then, if you speak, you mustn’t show your face. Or if you show your face, you mustn’t speak. He’s calling again. Please answer him.
    She exits.

    ISABELLA

    Peace and prosperity! Who’s there?
    LUCIO enters.

    LUCIO

    Well, hello, virgin—if you are one, as your rosy cheeks proclaim you to be. Can you help me to find Isabella, a novice here and the pretty sister to Claudio, her unlucky brother?