"were at piquet"
Picket cards deck
Public DomainPicket cards deck - Credit: Polybius, Wikipedia Commons

A card game for two players, with a special 32-card deck. Piquet was first mentioned at the beginning of the 16th century.

For the very curious, here is a book written specifically on this game in 1881: The Laws of Piquet, edited by Cavendish and adopted by the Portland club.